Agenda item

Community Interest Company

(Leader) To consider the attached report (C-040-2019-20).

 

 

Decision:

(1)        That the establishment of the Qualis Community Interest Company be approved in accordance with the following principles:

 

            (a)        to improve the economic, social and general wellbeing of the public             through a sustainable approach to providing public infrastructure and services;

 

            (b)        to operate in the Epping Forest District Council area, adjacent             authorities and broader East of England initiatives (with partners);

 

            (c)        to set up a representative steering group for each defined project that             would make recommendations to the Qualis Community Interest Board             (effectively the Qualis Group Board); and

 

            (d)        to report the activity of the Community Interest Company to the             Council on a quarterly and annual basis in line with the proposals for the other             Qualis group companies.

Minutes:

The Leader of Council, Cllr C Whitbread, presented a report on the establishment of a Community Interest Company within the Qualis Group.

 

Cllr C Whitbread informed the Cabinet that Community Interest Companies (CICs) were a new type of limited company for organisations wishing to establish businesses which traded with social purpose, or to carry on other activities for the benefit of the community.  The CIC would sit well with the other Qualis Limited Companies and provide a useful form for holding assets such as community halls and facilities, as well as trading in a conventional sense through the provision of goods and services. It would be registered as a Company Limited by shares and would need to describe the community or section of the community that the company’s activities would benefit, so as to enable the regulator to decide the company’s eligibility for CIC status.

 

Cllr C Whitbread stated that the existence of such a company was deemed to allow public realm and public services to be delivered in a flexible way whilst being attentive to local need as well as being a useful vehicle for potential future schemes where community support was essential, e.g. solar farms and water management measures. The formation of such a company would also offer appropriate financial and tax flexibility. In addition, the existence of a CIC with the support of the Qualis Group but locally focused would allow it to immediately play a role in the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town Project.  Also, some of the Epping Town Centre sites and other potential developments across the District might have areas of public realm or community assets that would benefit from being operated through the Qualis Community Interest Company. 

 

The Strategic Director, S Jevans, explained that the Cabinet was being requested to approve the establishment of the CIC, which would support the work of the Qualis Group. The benefit for the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town project had already been highlighted, and this was an exciting opportunity. It was not expected that the articles to comply with the CIC Regulations 2005 would be submitted to the Cabinet for approval. The registration process would be followed and, if successful, the CIC would report back to the Council on a quarterly and annual basis.

 

Cllr C Whitbread clarified that only one share would be issued for the CIC, and it would be wholly owned by the Council. The projects that had been scheduled for the CIC would benefit the local community and help to stimulate the local economy after the Coronavirus pandemic had ended.

 

Decision:

 

(1)        That the establishment of the Qualis Community Interest Company be approved in accordance with the following principles:

 

(a)        to improve the economic, social and general wellbeing of the public through a sustainable approach to providing public    infrastructure and services;

 

(b)        to operate in the Epping Forest District Council area, adjacent authorities and broader East of England initiatives (with partners);

 

(c)        to set up a representative steering group for each defined project that would make recommendations to the Qualis Community Interest Board   (effectively the Qualis Group Board); and

 

(d)        to report the activity of the Community Interest Company to the Council on a quarterly and annual basis in line with the proposals for the other Qualis group companies.

 

Reasons for Decision:

 

It was important that the Council took an active role in the social and community benefits for its residents and this approach would enable a company structure to achieve significant long-term advantages. The governance that sits around the existing Qualis Group of companies would provide the skills and experience to manage this new company.

 

Other Options Considered and Rejected:

 

To not proceed with the set-up of this company within the existing structure; however, this would mean that the Council would potentially lose the community interest opportunities within the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town. In the same way, there would be many opportunities for the Council to create community benefit on existing Council-owned sites, such as the St John’s Road development.

Supporting documents: