The local authority says it wants to remain as trustee but transfer management of the house to a 'not-for-profit trust'
Birmingham City Council has launched a consultation into setting up a body to manage Highbury, a charity that it has been criticised for mismanagment.
The council is the sole corporate trustee of Highbury, which owns Highbury Hall, a listed building left to the city by the family of the Victorian politician, Joseph Chamberlain, as well as its extensive grounds.
At present, local charities say that little or no charitable activity is taking place at the house andit is extensively used for council business.
But the council’s trusts and charities committee, which is responsible for the trust, has proposed a new plan for the Highbury site. The council has now said it wants to remain as the trustee, but transfer management of the house and grounds to a "not-for-profit trust" that would open up the house for charitable purposes.
Tony Thapar, coordinator at Moseley Community Development Trust, who is among local voluntary leaders who have campaigned for independent trusteeship at Highbury, said he was optimistic about the plans.
"It’s moving in the direction that we’ve wanted," he said. "There are one or two concerns with the language used in the consultation document – the council talks about owning the building, for example, when it’s actually held in trust, and it doesn’t mention involving voluntary groups.
"But we’re hopeful that this will lead to the results we’ve wanted."