There is yet another meeting of the Barham Trust today which conjures up some unexpected issues.
There is an item on the Veterans Club that rents part of the building complex. It would appear that a member of the public complained that the Club was not inclusive. The Council decided to investigate the Club's activities with regard to equalities.
This surprises me, as I have previously argued that the Council (i.e. the Trust) is simply a landlord, and shouldn't worry about what its tenants are doing, aside from keeping to the tenancy agreement. However, the Committee's legal advice appears to be slightly different:
"Although charities are not public bodies, they may still be covered by the general duty if they exercise public functions, and equality legislation does have an impact on their service delivery or charitable objects."
The recommendations involve various Council officers taking a very pro-active approach to promoting equalities issues in the Club.
I would have thought that this policy would have to apply not just to the Veterans club, but also to the other two tenants. To implement the policy with regard to one tenant but not to the two others strikes me as irrational.
Although this is advice to the Trust, which is separate to the Council as a whole, I imagine it would also be applicable to other buildings where the Council is acting as landlord, which will unfortunately add to the complexities of management of such properties.
Going to Plan
Otherwise, it sounds as if the Trust is progressing well according to the plan agreed some time ago after consultation. Works to the buildings have progressed. The bank of leylandi trees, which I understood have been the focus for anti-social behavior, are being removed and replaced with a path. ACAVA have now moved in as a tenant, and their studios are fully occupied, which will surprise Paul Lorber who argued that there was no demand for artist studios in the area.
The leasing of the community lounge, which is the only item I can see that deviates from the original plan, which was to allow ad hoc lettings, will generate further income _ reducing the Trust's dependence on Brent Council for funding.
I am a little surprised by the detail that the Trust will ask the Charity Commission's permission to rent the Children's Centre building to the Council, but I assume that is just a technical detail.
Altogether it seems that the Trust has made a lot of progress since the "years of neglect" under Paul Lorber.