'The Doorstep Green and Redlingfield Village Amenities Ltd
Redlingfield Doorstep Green was created in response to requests from villagers who wanted somewhere safe for children to play and a wildlife-friendly recreation space to hold events or play sport or just sit and enjoy the view.
Russell Kerry found out about the Doorstep Green scheme, whereby the Countryside Agency gave grants to villages to help them create new village greens. The Doorstep Green is protected by legal agreements and it must remain a recreational amenity for the village for a period of 80 years. Purchase and initial set up costs were in the region of £80,000 and villagers put in over 2,000 volunteer hours on the project, digging, planting weeding etc.
As part of the agreement for getting the grant from the Countryside Agency, we had to set up a separate limited company to own and manage the Doorstep Green – this was to protect it from being owned or controlled by any of the local Councils or the Parish Meeting (as cash strapped Councils have been known to sell of any land they own).
The Not-for-Profit community-based company that was set up is called Redlingfield Village Amenities Ltd (Company number: 05134030). Current directors are: Drew Abbott, Katie Abbott, Mike Ager (Secretary), Allan Chapman, Pat Kelly, Janet Norman-Philips (Managing Director) and Alison Smith. The original directors were selected by the village. Previous directors have included: Hazel Abbott, Manday Miller and Chris Tringham (now Stanford). Future potential directors are chosen by the Company and invited to join the board.
The role of the directors is to keep the Doorstep Green safe and ensure it serves the people of Redlingfield as a wildlife-friendly space for recreation. It pays for and maintains its assets:- shed, mower, play equipment, trees, paths and fencing etc, applying for grants to improve the Doorstep Green and its facilities and seeking donations and volunteers to achieve this.
The Doorstep Green belongs to the Company not to the individual directors. It not an asset for the purposes of individual directors’ tax affairs or for their wills, so it cannot be “inherited” by their heirs. As a limited company, directors' financial exposure is limited to £1.
Activities of the company are reported to each Annual Parish Meeting and Village Committee meeting under the “Doorstep Green” report section. Any major purchases are discussed prior to purchase and the Village Committee and Parish Meeting help with fundraising for these purchases as does the Parish Church group (the PCC). Suggestions for improvements or issues are also discussed at those meetings and where practical, legal and affordable are adopted or investigated to see if they are possible.
The accounts for the company are prepared by an accountant (Jeanette Brierley) and published at Companies House and are open to full public scrutiny. The vast majority of the monies raised on the Doorstep Green are given directly to the Parish Meeting (Pub on the Green, Summer Fayre & BBQ etc). The Doorstep Green is the primary fundraising venue for the Parish Meeting.
In its terms of reference, the company is required to work with and co-operate with other village organisations (such as the Church PCC and the Parish Meeting). There is an agreement that the Parish Meeting helps with the maintenance and upkeep of the Doorstep Green and insures it under the village insurance policy.
The Doorstep Green was extended by two acres some five years ago – to provide increased play, wildlife and recreation areas, as well as parking for the church and visitors to the Doorstep Green. Costs and work involved have been far more than anyone anticipated and are ongoing. The car parking and fencing have yet to be installed.
The play areas need expanding and improving as do the paths, recreation and wildlife areas.
Notes: The powers of a Parish Meeting are quite limited and less than that of a Parish Council– so it is not legally allowed to own recreation areas such as the Doorstep Green. Any such assets would automatically be “owned” by Mid Suffolk District Council.