Partial success for Dartford residents in charitable land case

Charity tribunal rules on Kidd Legacy

The two Dartford residents who appealed to the charity tribunal about the actions of the Charity Commission after the illegal sale of a section of charitable land to developers have had two out of their four complaints upheld.

The tribunal published its final verdict in the case yesterday.

Derek Maidment and Lennox Ryan were appealing against the commission's decision to rubber stamp the sale of a section of charitable land by Dartford Borough Council.

The council sold a section of the Kidd Legacy land, which forms part of Kent town's Central Park, to developers in 2004. The sale was a breach of the trust.

The commission approved a scheme to remedy the situation that included using the proceeds of the sale for the upkeep of the rest of the charitable land, buying replacement land and including some independent members on a new governance committee.

But in its final verdict, the tribunal, chaired by principal judge Alison McKenna, ruled that the governance arrangements for the charity, for which the council is the sole trustee, must be further amended to include enough independent trustees to form a quorum at meetings.

It ruled that the number of independent members on the new governance committee must be able to make quorate decisions in the absence of council representatives, who might be affected by a conflict of interest.

It also ordered that the original objects of the charity, which had been modified by the Commission's scheme, should be reinstated, and that it should be registered with the commission and the Land Registry "so that local people can be reassured that this historic charity could not be overlooked again in the plans for the development of the town centre".

But the tribunal declined to order the commission to re-examine the question of whether the council and developer had acted in good faith. Their lawyers had not realised the land was charitable, it said.

It also ruled that the land that was sold had been correctly valued.

Maidment said the outcome was "a triumph for the people of Dartford, who have supported us by making their representations to Dartford Borough Council and the Charity Commission over the injustice of all this."

Ryan said the outcome of the case was as good as he could have wished. "I don't think we could have hoped for much more," he said.

A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said it was considering its response.

Click here to read the verdict.

 

 

Paul Jump recommends

Dartford Borough Council

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