Alston Moor Parish Council is responsible for Alston Town Hall, by taking on the rôle as the sole trustee of the Town Hall charity. This means that parish councillors, separately from their parish council work, have to do all they can to maintain the Town Hall and ensure it has enough money to pay all bills. Room hire and events open to the public bring in income. The Friends of Alston Town Hall also help raise money for long-term maintenance.
A parish council acting as sole charity trustee acts as a corporate body: individual councillors are not themselves charity trustees, it is the parish council which is the charity trustee.
Meetings of the parish council, when acting as sole trustee of a charity are private, not public. The public have no right to attend (although a parish council may allow them to attend) and the minutes of the meeting are not public documents.
The Charity Commission advises (OG 56 A1):
“The charity needs to be independent of the local authority in the sense that decisions about the administration and operation of the charity need to be taken solely in the interests of the charity, with a view to furthering its chari- table purposes, and for no other purpose”.
The parish council must comply with the charity reporting and accounting requirements of the Charities Act 2011, including preparation of an annual report by the trustees in the required form.
If the parish council uses money from the precept (or from other income or reserves held as a local authority) in order to help meet expenditure by the charity, this should be shown in both the parish council and charity’s accounts as a grant to the charity.