Claxton Parish Pit Charity (the Pits Trust) Annual Report 2017-18

Annual Report of Claxton Parish Pit Charity April 2018

Membership:

David Bissonnet, Chair and independent member
Pat Clare, Secretary and Chair of Parish Council
Mike Balmer, Treasurer, Independent
Mary Button, Parish Councillor
Paul Carter, representing Claxton Church
Jason Cantrill, Parish Councillor
David Hamblin, Parish Councillor
Kevin Parker, Independent
Sarah Kennedy, Parish Councillor

Introduction
Claxton Parish Pit Charity (the Pits Trust) is a registered charity 243172. The Trust receives income from three assets. Ducan’s Marsh, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, for which grants are received from Natural England as well as grazing rent. Number 3 The Warren, a semi-detached house in the village which is let. The allotments, which are leased from the Claxton Manor Estate and administered by the Trust on behalf of the parish. In addition the Trust shares income from the solar panels which are fitted to the Village Hall which were funded by the Trust.

Subject to payment of the expenses (maintaining the properties and meeting all other outgoings payable in their respect and charges and expenses incidental to administration and management of the charity) the Trustees shall apply the income of the charity for the charitable purpose for the general benefit of the inhabitants of the Parish of Claxton. (Quote from Charity Commission).

Governance
The Governing Document of the Claxton Pits Trust is available on the village web site for all to read.

N.B. Trustees are not remunerated and do not claim expenses.

The Trustees have been advised by the Charity Commission that the following guiding principles should be followed:

  • That the funds be targeted rather than shared generally,
  • That the funds be applied in support of existing statutory benefits such as social security to avoid loss of benefits,
  • That the funds be used where other funds are not available.
  • In addition the Trust has established the following principles:
  • up to £2,000 pa is available annually as a bursary for educational purposes, up to £500 per case for assistance to the elderly or anyone incapacitated, to help with maintenance of properties excluding any capital works and up to £100 per annum towards the cost of hospital visits to family. In addition any other requests will be considered by the Trustees, who will hold the information in confidence

Following these principles the Trustees have sought to benefit the parish and parishioners.

This report summarises the activities in 2017/18.

Meetings
The Trustees have met six times in 2017/18 to ensure management of the assets and review requests and plans. Having refurbished No3 and let the property, the Trustees have been rebuilding the reserves of the charity and have agreed a target level of reserves which should be established for the future.

Finance

The Treasurer prepares a financial report for each meeting showing predicted income and expenditure. The Trust is required to have sufficient reserves to meet any likely shortfall in income and the target of two years expenditure has been met during this financial year. Accounts are provide annually to the Charity Commission.

Assets
No 3 Warren – This is the primary asset of the trust and was refurbished in 2015-16 and subsequently let through professional property managers. We are pleased with the continued tenancy to a young family. The house is in good condition and is regularly inspected by the managing agents who report on any items of repair required. A specialist Fire Safety inspection   was carried out during the year and the recommendations in the report are being implemented.

Ducan’s Marsh – Under the agreement with Natural England, we are subject to Higher Level Stewardship management which while providing grant income requires us to pro-actively manage the site in line with their guidance. The South Yare Wildlife Group has continued to provide support with volunteers taking part in working parties and organising a very successful open day for the village and visitors. Kevin Parker has played the lead role in liaising with NE and coordinating the working parties. The maintenance, access and enhancement of the site has been carried out by volunteers supported by the Trust and the site is now much better known, used and enjoyed by the village.

Spring 2017 – Grazing was carried out successfully in 2017 on an experimental basis and will continue this coming summer after the June 17th Open Day until the end of October. The site needs more grazing to break up the underlying mat of vegetation. Based on the Natural England ‘formula’ up to seven ponies could graze Ducan’s and Kevin Parker will encourage the grazier to use more animals this season.

Autumn 2017 – South Yare Wildlife Group volunteers and others brush cut, cleared and burned a large area of Willow scrub that had been expanding year on year, thus making available, more land for the valuable fen habitat to colonise.

Winter 2017 – Volunteers again worked for two days at the site, cutting and clearing a number of Alder trees, to halt expansion of the woodland. During a very wet season, great fun and exercise was had in the deep mud.

Spring 2018 – For the first time, SYWG Young Explorers, led by Rose Hoare attended the site. Rose is a Forest School trained leader. Her youngsters, mainly from Surlingham, range in age from 8 to 11 years. They carried out some cutting and clearing, had a campfire and got very mucky. They have used Ducan’s for a second time and, with the Trust’s consent, intend to do so again in the future.

An Open Day should take place on Sunday June the 17th from 10.30 to 4. It will be open to Claxton residents, SYWG members and 2 or 3 other invited groups. Members of the Café Committee have agreed to staff the Village Hall.

Allotments – The Allotments are managed by the Trust on behalf of the Parish Council. In the absence of sufficient bids for allotment sites the Trust are considering the creation of a community orchard as a suitable long term use for the area and a commemoration of the Centenary of the end of World War One.

Solar Panels on Village Hall
These panels are proving to be effective and provide income which is shared by the Trust and the Village Hall.

Support and requests
As the charity has substantially rebuilt its financial reserves following the refurbishment of its major asset the charity is able to support requests for assistance or support. The trust has not received other requests during the year for individual support, for example education or training costs, or hospital Travel costs. The Trust has reasonably wide discretion and can consider a range of requests for assistance.

Defibrillator Installation   The Trust has agreed in principle to support the village by way of a grant towards the installation, training and maintenance of a Defibrillator to be located outside the village hall.

Contact Care   The Trust has agreed to meet the cost of the 24 hr lifeline emergency response service provided by South Norfolk Council through Contact Care. Currently two villagers are supported. All residents of Claxton are eligible, and the Trust welcomes further requests which will be treated confidentially.

The Accounts and Treasurer’s Report
An unaudited financial statement is available on the Village website and notice board and can be read by clicking here.

David Bissonnet, Independent Chair

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