The United Services Club, 60 Manor Avenue

When we mentioned last month that the United Services Club had closed, it received not a single eulogy.

This background, from sometime contributer JPM, helps to explain why a community asset goes unmourned:

The USC building was donated in the 1920s by a person unknown and has operated as a club ever since. Neighbours in Manor Avenue and in the surrounding roads were actually allowed to become members under the club's charter. The problem is that they never knew that. Those that did attempt to become members were not met with much enthusiasm.

In fact, recently, the club closed its membership to newcomers. The building was offered for sale. Zoom Nurseries Ltd wants to opens a nursery for 80 children with 20 staff, which is rather contentious.

It also presents an interesting question: Given that it was donated to the USC members back in 1929, who really owns it, the community, or the people who have allowed it to deteriorate and closed its membership intake?

77 comments:

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

Many years ago when the Talbot had a darts team, we played "The Manor Club" as it was known, in the local league.

It was essentially (from memory) a converted house - bar in what would be the rear ground floor reception room - and the back garden was built over with an industrial type shed which was the function room.

It was rather a dead and dreary place, feezing in Winter but the beer was cheap!

I assume the proceeds from any sale would at least go to the benefit of the United Services Charity to look after retired soldiers?

Both venues are of course currently out of use.

Brockley Nick said...

Interesting TM, thanks.

It would be interesting to know if the charity does stand to benefit...

JPM said...

The United Services Fund was set up to benefit those persons who had served in Her Majesty's Armed Forces. It is is now defunct.

Following the 2nd World War, control of its assets passed to the British Legion, the likely beneficiary.

However the proceeds from the sale look set to be divided between the club's (?) members.

The 'Manor Ten' closed the membership intake prior to the sale. (To be registered as a private licensed premises it should have a minimum of twenty five members. Nonethless it recently continued its license.)

Some o the member beneficiaries share the same surname. (One who lives in the street is due to leave following the sale.)

A charge is also held by Midland Bank, but this is nominal and will presumably be paid off at the point of sale.

So, which charity looks set to benefit? None. The 10 people who closed the membership intake look set to personally benefit from a charitable donation that was made back in 1931 to purchase a building for ex-servicemen - of which there are still many.

Pete said...

That sounds totally outrageous to me JPM, I can't believe it is legal but then I wouldn't be surprised if it is. What a disgrace frankly.

Tamsin said...

Might be an issue to report to the Charity Commission. It may be because such breaks never come my way, like City bonuses, but it does seem very unfair that a small group of people who have done nothing to make the best of what was intended to be a community asset should benefit to the tune of tens of thousands of pounds each. Particularly if half of them are a small cliquy family.

For a very small fee anyone working for a solicitor, estate agent or property company could could do an on-line Land Registry search to see who actually owns the premises - or anyone at all for a slightly larger fee and more hassle.

The Cat Man said...

These things happen fairly frequently, the otherside of the situation to consider is that do people really think these members contributed a small donation 40-50yrs ago in the expectation that they would receive a hand out in return in 2008?

Rather than some sort of underhand dealing, It may well be just a lucky situation.

It also requires a certain proportion of the membership to agree to close down the charity, so presumably a meeting was called and a vote taken amoungst the membership?

I can't really see anything wrong with this, other than the impact on the community. But theres nothing stopping a new charity being created in its place by all those concerned.....

Headhunter said...

Cat Man, there certainly is something wrong IF this small group, including several members of the same family purposely ran the club down with the intention of selling it off for their own benefit at a later date. Certainly these people have made no attempt to publicise the place and the charity that it was donated to is defunct and the British Legion seems to have forgotten it exists. I live on Manor Ave and I had no idea I had a right to join the club or anything about it.

I always wondered what the club was all about when I walked past. Why is it contentious to turn it into a nursery? I suppose it may create traffic problems in and out of Manor Ave in the mornings and afternoons, and I suppose a bunch of screaming under 5s aren't ideal neighbours...

Tressilliana said...

80 under-5s in one house - is it a mansion? How do you safely evacuate 80 under-5s from a Victorian three or four storey house in the event of fire? That sounds very dodgy to me, and so does the whole thing with the charity. Presumably we are talking about a large house that could sell for not far short of a million.

Headhunter said...

It is certainly a big old place, but the more I think about it, the more I can see problems, particularly with parking and access along Manor Ave, it would be chaotic as parents for 80 kids in the 4x4s descended on what is otherwise a quiet residential street with traffic calming and humps. Parking is already nearly impossible.

tj said...

SO is anyone going to get in touch with the Charity Comission or the British legion?

Headhunter said...

Well volunteered!

Bea said...

In defence of a new day nursery in Manor Avenue

- there is not enough nursery care in the area (there are always long waiting lists to get a place and some won’t even let you register on one) which indicates demand for more

- it will provide jobs locally and inject money into the area

- there are nurseries in former houses in the conservation area on Tressillian and Tyrratt Roads which appear successful

- fire escapes can be built onto the back of the building

- most kids are pushed to the nursery in their buggies or walked (I never see a scrum of 4x4s round nurseries in the morning / or the local primary schools for that matter as most kids get a place based on distance to school gate and for most that means walking distance)

- I think a nursery is a whole lot better then an unused, slightly suspect club

JPM said...

There is certainly something strange about the whole deal. Not one original member exists.

The management appears to have done little to attract more locals - and thereby have a wider use of the place. Instead, it locked its membereship.

A search at Land Registry records one charge against the property by Midland Bank. However, besides this, I managed purely by chance (and you wou not know it was there unless you delved) to get a hold of the deeds to the building. These record the original charge by the United Services Fund (a charity under Royal Charter) and state that the building should be held in perpertuity for the furtherance of its membership - ex servicemen and women.

Ironically, at least one member who looks to benefit is pleading poverty to the council. He is due to be rehoused out of the street by a Housing Association.

Additional persons renting in the building itself are also due to be rehoused, presumably at the public purse.

tj said...

Hey I took up the Tennis OCurt issue with the hilly Fields User Assocaition and Glendale - and also wrote a letter to the council re the Speedicabs sign.

It would be good if someone with more knowledge of the issue could take it forward - if anyone is bothered.

JPM said...

Sorry, Bea, I think we must be operating on different planets.

I used to send my child to Catherine House and it DID increase traffic. A lot of mothers had more than one child and did not use pushchairs. (That's just the type of propaganda that the nursery itself put out, claiming ALL parents would come on foot - and the staff too.)

But if you don't believe a proud NIMBY then do look at the council traffic management figures for nurseries. This will give you an informed and less biased view. Some 68% are said to use cars -minimum.

That said, if you could pass over your address details to Nick I'll make a suggestion where the nursery could possibly be relocated.

Tressilliana said...

I live fairly near Catherine House in Tressillian Road and can testify that quite a few of the children there arrive by car. Lots of kids were taken to and from Gordonbrock and Chelwood by car when my children were there, and to my surprise it would seem that a fair few of the girls at Prendergast are dropped off by parents. Possibly it's on the parents' way to work.

Bea said...

I didn't say that NO cars are used but it would be wrong to say it is a "scrum". I walk past a nursery on a daily basis and my kid walks to school (as do a large number of the children at this school) although some are dropped off by car too. I never see cars backed up round the corner looking for a place to park either outside the nursery or the school.

And I have no problem with a nursery opening up on my road. In fact I would welcome it as it brings vibrancy and life to an area that is otherwise fairly quiet during the day. I have no objection to children or the noise they make.

JPM said...

Sorry I am posting so much, but I wanted to amend one of my statements and to keep this thread on track.

Apologies for the error. This is what the deeds say in part. (Note that these will not show up in a normal Land registry search.)

'...save as regards the premises comprised in the Title above [60 Manor Avenue] referred to is to be a floating security but so that the Soceity is not at liberty to create any mortgage or charge on its freehold or leasehold property in prioroty to aor pari passue with these presents.'

(c) 'If and order is made or an effective resolution is passed for the winding up of thesociety.' [the Fund should be notified.]

(d) '.... shall give notice in writing of the... intention to pay off.' [the loan to the Fund.]

SCHEDULE OF CONDITIONS

2. 'The Society shall remain registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1893 in accordance with the said United Services Fund Club Rules.'

3. 'The Society shall... do nothing to obstruct the registration of the charge...'

4. 'The Society shall not without the previous consent in writing of the Fund sell or otherwise dispose of any freehold or leasehlod land or to premises for the time being belonging to or held in trust for the Society.' [I said 'in perpetuity', which is wrong.]

5. The Society's Club shall be and shall for ever hereafter remain open to and for the benefit of ex-serving officers or men as hereinbefore defined.'

The British Legion has been informed but so far failed to respond.

Headhunter said...

I certainly can't believe that every parent delivering kids to the nursery would come on foot. I can see chaos at the corner of Manor Ave and Ashby Rd in the morning and evenings, Manor Ave is quite narrow there as traffic calming has purposely narrowed it precisely that point to force vehicles into single file. Even a light smattering of traffic there would create problems.

Also at the moment, during rush hour, quite a few drivers use the stretch of Manor Ave from Geoffrey Rd to Ashby Rd as a cut through to avoid part of the parallel section of Wickham Rd as they rush to get to Lewisham Way, so those drivers as well as parents would probably lead to some gridlock in the mornings and evenings.

To be honest it would most likely be when I was at work and I don't drive anyway, so I don't know why I care.....

OK, I can call the Charity Commission/British Legion. Anyone know the number? Or anything specific that I should highlight, beyond the points outlined by JPM?

Brockley Kate said...

Just to be clear about some basics: what is the name of the registered charity involved here?

Who is listed as the property's owner at the Land Registry?

jpm said...

Actually you also said, 'most kids are pushed to the nursery in their buggies or walked.' And yet the council study would appear to be at odds with this assertion in claiming 68% or more 'drive'.

My neighbours also like kids, but 80, from 730am to 6pm? [Perhaps it doesn't help that they have studios next door.]

Anyway, name and address on a postcard and I shall forward the details as th nursery people are looking for other sites.

Bea said...

JPM – don’t see how we are going off topic? The discussion here is all related to the building.

HH - Charity Commission Tel: 0845 3000 218, British Legion Tel: 08457 725 725

Bea said...

JPM – where did you get your data from? Can’t seem to locate it on the council website.

Also, is this statistic based on state funded nurseries attached to schools or private day care nurseries?

I know schools ask you to provide them with transport information but would private organisations provide similar information to the council?

If the nursery is keen on finding other locations in Brockley, then I say good on them. I’m more than happy to see these kinds of business flourish. There are several houses for sale on my street but I am sure they will have checked them out for suitability already.

JPM said...

The question Nick asked: 'Given that it was donated to the USC members back in 1929, who really owns it, the community, or the people who have allowed it to deteriorate and closed its membership intake?'

By 'on track' I mean that discussion on where nurseries should be sited should be an additional thread. This is far too important to dilute on the merits or not as to what is going to take its place. Should anything?

To answer Kate's questions, the Title [301701] records the owner(s) to be the United Services Club (Deptford) Ltd, registered at the
1st July 1930. However, a day earlier its original members had signed the deeds with the United Services Fund (an unnconnected charitable organisation formed between the wars) - and it owned the building. For some reason the terms of the original deeds, together with the identity of the purchaser (the USF) have not been entered onto the updated register. Surely deeds trump the entered details?

Brockley Kate said...

JPM - so could it be the case that the USC(D) took a long lease of some kind from the USF?

And I'm still not clear who it is that we're supposed to be complaining to. If the USF is now part of the Royal British Legion, are you suggesting that Brockleyites should contact the Legion to ask them to step in?

Bea said...

JPM – you like cracking your whip, don’t you? So you’re the moderator now?

I can understand that it is an issue you feel passionate about, after all if it’s a dodgy scam they shouldn’t get away with it.

However, we don’t know that for sure yet do we. Well not until HH can provide some clarity hopefully from the Charity Commission and / or the Royal British Legion.

Headhunter said...

Well I've emailed both the CC and the BL. Don't feel confident that I know enough about it to call them up and talk it through, so I have laid out what I know, gleaned from discussions here and provided a link to this site. Lets see what happens....

jpm said...

Kate, I didn't ask you to complain to anyone.

"The British Legion has been informed but so far failed to respond."

The building is being offered freehold so its unlikely that the present membership of the USC(D)sees itself (theirselves)as anything other than freeholders. If they were anything but then they would be commiting (mortgage)fraud.

The Cat Man said...

To keep the post on track, is the USF the charity and the USC(D) Ltd a company created to administer the transactions of the society?

If that is the case, the USF should be receiving rent from the USC (D) for use of the building otherwise the USC (D) cannot be operating at true cost (and therefore somewhat dodgy).

I think we need to make clear how this is set up. Often what the public perceive to be 'charities' are actually registered companies.

Its alot easier for the members (aka shareholders) to wind up a company rather than a charity.

jpm said...

Headhunter, I have just seen your post and I would be happy to pass on any documentation, deeds etc, you may think you need. (You can get my phone number from Nick if you want, or just knock on my door.)I am also in contact with BL and did intend going to the CC.

Bea, if you can let me know the addresses for your road I can pass those on to the nursery as I am in contact with them. (They are quite a nice bunch of people and I'm sure you'll get on famously.)

The Cat Man said...

JPM,

I have come up with a different search using ICC/Companies house:

Numb: IP10648R, United Services Club (Deptford) Ltd, created 1981.

I cannot find anything under the other ref, is this the correct one?

Cannot find anything under the charities commission website at all.

Brockley Kate said...

No need for the tetch, JPM, I'm simply trying to understand the situation.

The Legion would need to establish whether it has any documentation about its potential ownership of the building before it can decide what its view of the situation is; this sounds like quite a technical legal wrangle. Meanwhile, someone could seek legal aid to obtain an injunction putting the sale on hold while the ownership issue is clarified?

JPM said...

Cat, that's a registration for the Financial Services Authority [FSA]. It oversees these clubs under the Industrial & Provident Act. [2. 'The Society shall remain registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1893 in accordance with the said United Services Fund Club Rules.'

However, much of its oversight is somewhat myopic. (It's a tad busy with the banks at present anyway.)

The registration of the title of the property is listed as mentioned earlier, and predates the (1981?) FSA registration.

Am I allowed to post the names and addresses of the Club's members here?

Anonymous said...

Only if they're outside of the conservation zone.

Headhunter said...

Cheers JPM, I'll see if they come back on my email. If they do I'll speak to you if they need more info. I'm off to Melbourne, Australia tomorrow for 2 weeks, but I'll monitor my email.

jpm said...

Kate, I assure you that I wasn't being tetchy. Though I do read back what I write sometimes and go 'oh dear'. No idea why it reads they way it does half the time.

Great idea about that injunction, but who to volunteer under Legal Aid? Don't you have to pass some kind of means test? (It will all be over in a couple of weeks, and many will have mysteriously moved on though.)

The Cat Man said...

A simple small claims made at the local court would at least put it on hold for a few weeks/months. Costs £20-ish.

Depends, how imminent is the sale? Pre-sumably the buyers lawyers will need to satisfy thereselves that the seller has legal right to sell the property?

I have not heard of the FSA regulating companies in this way. Companies house is a seperate thing, so is the charities commission.

Aha... ok, just read again. The entity in question is actually a 'society' not a charity or company. hence the FSA regulation and hence the formulation by 'royal charter'. The United Services Fund could well be a part of the consitutent Society, abit like the Central Fund and Corporation of Lloyds being consituent parts of the 'society of lloyds', also formed by royal Charter.

The bad news is, that any current membership have every right to wind down the society and realised any potential assets.

My suggestion is that if the current membership is indeed, only 10 members or so, then simply get say 15 members to join to form a majority of members against the wind down.

I know you said the membership was closed, but this could be the point to argue? The extract you posted above implies it has to be open to 'all ex-servicemen'. Therefore get 15 ex-servicemen.

Brockley Kate said...

Who's the buyer? I'd guess they might be considerably more wary about the purchase if they were aware that there is a wrangle over the title (if their lawyers are half-decent they should have noticed something's not right anyway (if that is indeed the case).).

I don't know whether small claims court can deal with this kind of thing. You may find that informing the purchaser's solicitor that there is doubt over the title will be enough to get them to do the investigation - if they have any sense, they will not want to buy something which they could end up losing through a title claim.

Tamsin said...

The Charity Commission should be interested as JPM says the original deed refers to a charge by the United Services Fund - a charity under royal charter - that the property (which was presumably paid for from United Servies Fund monies should be held in perpetuity for its membership.

Charities can be wound up by their members, but the assets realised need to be applied cy pres to a similar organisation (not the members) - in this case the British Legion.

A company can still be a charity - the charity restrictions on sale of land, accounting, reporting to the trustees etc. just apply on top of the company restrictions.

In the circumstances both the CC and BL should be very interested indeed in preventing the sale or only authorising it under the due regulations with monies to be received by approopriate trustees.

You don't want to mess about with an injunction - not sure who apart from ex-servicement living in Manor Road would have locus standi. Check with the Land Registry how to put a caution on the title - sufficient to scare off any purchaser until the matter is sorted out.

The Cat Man said...

I think this really gets down to the crunch of the matter - maybe there isn't enough ex-servicemen living in the catchment area to warrant the club!

I know its a sad thing, but maybe this just comes down to pure market factors? Afterall, without new wars, we wouuld expect the number of ex-servicemen to decrease, wouldn't we?

IF it was to remain, how exactly would it continue? Is there sufficient demand?

Interesting stuff.

jpm said...

Tamsin, the USC is not a registered charity, so the CC has no interest.

I should add that out of the ten members set to benefit, many are not listed at the addresses given. [This could be due to the electoral register I looked at, 2005. One member was then listed in NW London. Another new to Manor Avenue itself establishing his tenant rights to his present housing association flat via his now departed girlfriend.]

The FSA has confirmed that this company is late in filing its accounts.

I will let you know what the British Legion has to say as I have just emailed its press office.

drakefell debaser said...

Iraq and Afghanistan are conflicts that will provide sufficient ex servicemen and women, I don't know how many of these would live in the area but thats not the point. If the property is to be sold then the proceeds should go to the servicemen in which ever area they live.

Market factors are one thing but this 'Manor 10'group look to be trying to make a bundle out of something that is not theirs.

Is Zoom Nurseries not the buyer?

Anonymous said...

Woah at this thread. Don't mess with the people in Brockley!

tj said...

Catman - you don't need wars to have ex-servicemen.

Previous posts have also said the club was open to Manor Road residents - only they didn't know about it.

I'm sure the family set to gain have checked with lawyers - but then agina, if they've bene running it as a personal fiefdom for the last x years, maybe they haven't.

The Charity Commission need to know some dates so they realise the urgency

Also thanks HH for getting touch with them - wasn't meaning to throw any toys..

Brockley Kate said...

Another consideration is the club's membership. Has it changed its articles of association (or similar)? If not, then it is not able to exclude local people from membership; again, a legal challenge could possibly be made to enforce this.
Does anyone have a copy of the constitut

Brockley Kate said...

oops ...

*'constitution'* is what I meant to type ...

Anonymous said...

Wow - somebody call in Citizen Smith, I love this thread ha!

JPM said...

Kate, I love the points you put forward. You and the other legal minds here may have something.

The constitution? It's strange but normally one can just download a file of a limited company from Companies House (for a fee) and read them.

However, in the case of an Industrial and Provident Society (such as this) one must apply after making a payment of £26 and physically go and peruse them, on an arranged day mind, at the oficce. Clearly it's archaic and open to abuse.

My feeling is that responsibilty for this lies with the FSA. Unfortunately it has bigger fish to fry in the City. Perhaps some as yet unknown government body may be the way via our local MP.

Brockley Kate said...

Re: IPS's: The FSA website says:
'If your society's register number ends in an 'R' or 'RS' then the society will be an industrial and provident society. Your society's own rulebook should also clarify the matter. You can also use the FSA Mutuals Register to check the 'Registration Act' for your society.'
... the link then takes you to a page which mentions: 'If you require copies of any documents registered for any of these societies then contact public. records@ fsa.gov.uk.'
(spaces added by me to prevent spam!)

http://www.fsa.gov.uk/pages/doing/small_firms/msr/societies/index.shtml

Some of that might help?!

shb said...

It's interesting that the building's not (as far as I can tell) been advertised as being for sale. That would seem to suggest that someone is more concerned about keeping the transaction under the radar than trying to achieve the best price for the building. I wonder if the mysterious 'buyer' has any links to the 'Manor 10'?

jpm said...

There is no mystery about the potential purchaser.

Zoom Nurseries has three similar nurseries in and around Lewisham. (I don't think they knew the vendor prior to the sale, and I'm certain they are a professional though unwitting outfit.)

The property was advertised, but discreetely (if one could call it such) in a local paper and through Acorn Commercial. Though I do acknowledge that speed and price were (are?) the issue disposing of it without advertising was never a rock that could be aimed.

shb said...

Won't it be a gamble for Zoom to go through with the purchase without getting planning permission first?
I've just e-mailed Joan Ruddock asking her to look into the situation.

jpm said...

It would be risky for (i) to purchase the building without the nursery permission in place, and (ii) to purchase the building without checking the original deeds too.

Although they may argue that they made the purchase 'in good faith' and that there were no deeds at the point of purchase, I am no expert in the law so I don't know what would then happen.

If it is found to be an illegal disposal of the property then all of the named members would obviously be pursued through the civil and criminal courts - as they would have been aware of an original deed preventing the sale for personal profit.

jpm said...

However, having said that, life throws up some curves ball from time to time. This is what the British Legion has to say:

'The benefit of the loans was transferred by the USF to the Legion so that if the loans are repaid the money is paid to the Legion, not the USF.'

'According to our records the loan for this particular club was repaid in 1947.'

'The properties acquired or improved as a result of the loans did not become the property of the USF or the Legion.'

'If the properties are owned by the clubs the proceeds of sale belong to the club and are dealt with according to the clubs' rules, constitution etc which may well provide that the the assets of the club, including the proceeds of sale, are to be paid the club members usually on the dissolution of the club.'

'This does not therefore seem to be matter for the Legion to become involved in.'

Tamsin said...

That would seem to be that then - the jammy devils have got themselves a windfall - if they are not a charity and the loan made by the charitable organisation way back has been repaid. A look at the constitution would be interesting, though, to see what it says about disposal of assets on dissolution (and whether it has been recently changed in some closed meeting).

The Hatcham Liberal Club is likewise up for sale - but with no takers even after a year or two - although I gather there that there is a massive mortgage so the members will get hardly anything.

Tamsin said...

The purchaser would not have to look at the original deeds - it is enough to go on what is on the Land Register and to pay the purchase money to the ostensible owner and comply with any restrictions or requirements noted there (like getting a receipt from two people). Any trusts attach to the proceeds of sale, not the land.

JPM said...

Thanks Tamsim, and second that.

Curiously the USC was registered at the address on the 12th Nov 1927- four years prior to the USF bailout.

Perhaps there is a deed prior to the one stated, which might state the intention of the original purchaser.

The USC(D)has not provided annual returns since 1997, which is probably why it's now under investigation by the FSA.

Anonymous said...

this just makes me ill. what a shame. as someone who works in 'prospect research' i'm sure that the original donor of the building did not intend for this to happen. and as someone who lives on manor ave, i'm sorry to see what ought to have been a community resource, pass into private hands. does anyone really doubt that it'll be converted to flats and sold on...? A scaled down version of the nursery idea would be fine by me, at least the building would be housing a valuable community service. Which it clearly hasn't done, for many years. Looks like cr*p, too.

jpm said...

Yes, Anon... it is an outrage. However, a scaled down nursery from 80 would not scale down enough to make it work for the residents or its investors.

The building is in a dreadful state and will need a lot of work.

However, and this is just a thought, could some legal egal offer advice on whether we can all apply for membership of the club - before the sale - and what orm this should take?

Under the club's operating license with the council it must have no fewer than 25 members, that means fifteen places should be filled. And neither should they have to be filled by ex-service as the club as done away with that rule.

Anonymous said...

JPM et al. I'm confused as to what your aims are here? To protect a "community resource" which the community has neglected for years? Or just to prevent the current members from benefiting from a sale?

Anonymous said...

I'm more outraged at this than by speedycars' sign and portland put together.

Pete said...

We should definitely stop the sale if we can - I really don't think that a few people should be able to take something so far away from what the original donor intended.

jpm said...

"JPM et al. I'm confused as to what your aims are here? To protect a "community resource" which the community has neglected for years? Or just to prevent the current members from benefiting from a sale?"

The community never neglected it. It was neglected by the members.

Most in the community did not know of it, so I cannot respond for them.

Pete says it all on the 'current (and only ten) members' benefitting, and I have little to add, save to say that there is still time for the (neglected) community to seek membership. Hopefully some may have served in the armed forces.

I'm curious as to what your aims are in raising the questions. Do you think it shouldn't be a benefit to the community? Do you think ten persons should personally benefit from a gift made by (an) unsuspecting invidual(s) back in 1927 for posterity?

devil's advocate said...

I think I am with anon @12.17.on this.

It doesn't take a leap of imagination to see the rump of the membership, who have battled for years to keep the club open, in the face of a total lack of interest from the remainder of the community, eventually giving up the fight and taking away a small nest egg.

Do we know for certain that they are not considering a sizeable donation to the British Legion from the proceeds of the sale?

I suspect not.

The Cat Man said...

JPM, I'm not a lawyer (i'm an accountant) but my suggestion would be firstly to take a look at the constitution. (i.e. pay the £25 quid or whatever it is at the FSA and get a copy).

This will allow you to determine wether it is lawful the existing members were able to close the membership to others on manor road/avenue. I would imagine the consitution would specify specifically who is eligible for membership and the rules for governing the club. If the existing membership did not agree, via a vote, on an amendment to the constitution then the closing of the membership to outsiders is a farce.

If the rule re. ex.servicemen is no longer applicable, this should allow you to get 15 residents - in accordance with the consitution to become members.

As I said before, then as the majority you could stop the sale. I would also argue at the same time that if the sale was previously agreed, under the period of unconstitutional closed membership' then the previous decision to sell is void.

You would be then expected to hold a new vote from the new & enlarged membership and hopefully then you would win. However, it would also mean the 25 people would be eligible to wind down the club, with all benefiting from the sale.

Does that help?

Brockley Kate said...

If if is the case that the club members have struggled for years to benefit the community and have now understandably given up on that aspiration, then surely the money from the sale should be given to groups which are still working locally - ie. BXAG and BrocSoc?

I do hope to hear that those organisations receive considerable donations in the near future (if the sale goes ahead, that is) ...

jpm said...

Thanks Cat. I would find it unlikely that the existing membership, the Manor Ten so called, disagreed, or failed to vote on it, the pecuniary advantages being such. However, the act that accounts may not have been submitted (since 1997) may void any such vote.(Actually some of those who are now members were probably not around in 1997) Which leads me to... the DA.

'battled for years to keep the club open'? 'in the face of a total lack of interest from the remainder of the community' 'eventually giving up the fight and taking away a small nest egg' - more like the defence attorney.

'Do we know for certain that they are not considering a sizeable donation to the British Legion from the proceeds of the sale? I suspect not.'

Do you know or certain that they are? I too suspect not. Certainly having battled for so many years against an uncaring community I should think they have every right to their 'small' (£65k?) nest egg, as painted by you.

The Cat Man said...

No problem, my only challenge to you there then is that often small organisations/companies overlook the administration of such organisation/professional matters so you be able to find a technicality.

It depends on the skill level of the membership. Ive audited loads of smaller charities,organisations. Often they havn't got a clue what to do (I guess thats why we were there!).

Good luck in your cause anyway.

jon s said...

Erm..

I think you over estimate how binding a "constitution" of a members club is. Remember Britain is one of the two developed countries without a constitution and a law based on principles.

Essentially, parliament reigns supreme and can overturn any court ruling or previous legislation with new legislation.

Probably the best bet is to lobby the local MP to get some obsure amendment on the next piece of legislation through parliament that states something like:

"any profits from the sale of an asset that has not been sold at market value since the asset has been or is owned by a registered charity must be reinvested in a registered charity."

The Cat Man said...

I completely disagree with you there Jon. I have clients like this, from my experience any dis-enfranchised member can submit a civil case agains the club as they may have a claim of being unfairly prejudicial. Its upto the court to decide, but it happens quite alot. My clients even have provisions against such acts (a provision being a near-certain cost from a court settlement).

Like I said, it depends on the constitution and rules.

jpm said...

HC Deb 25 November 1919 vol 121 cc1611-2 1611 [Hansard]

§ 34.

Mr. CAPE asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether the constitution of the executive committee of the United Services Fund has now been decided, and whether representatives of the three ex-Service men's organisations are to be included?

§ Mr. CHURCHILL The constitution of the Committee of this organisation is at present the subject of consideration with a view to the restriction of its responsibilities to care for the interests of the ex-Service officers and other ranks and their dependants, the Army Council and Air Council administering such portions of the fund as may be earmarked for the benefit of the serving soldiers and airmen respectively. This involves withdrawal from the Committee of the members still serving in the Army and Air Force.

Nuff said.

Headhunter said...

Well, I got this reply from the Charities Commission....

Dear Sir/Madam

Thank you for your e.mail below. I note you have concerns about a property known as 60 Manor Avenue, Brockley, London. Without further information it is difficult to comment on whether the property is owned by the Royal British Legion, some other charity or is not charitable. From the information in your e.mail, it may be owned by the local Royal British Legion but it is difficult to form a definitive view without further information.

If the property is owned by the Royal British Legion then consideration would be needed of the Trust Deed by which they obtained the property back in the 1920s to find out the terms on which it is held. There are specific parts of the Charities Act 1993 (section 36) which needs to be complied with before a sale of the property could take place. Also, the money from the sale would remain with the Legion, and it could not be used for personal gain.

I would suggest in the first instance you try and find out who are the trustees or the owners of the building. You may find the Land Registry website useful. I would also suggest you contact the British Legion directly, which I note you are doing. They may have more information on the property. http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/contact/Contact-Us-509170.shtml

You say that it has always operated as a Club, and this may indicate that this is a Royal British Legion Club (not charitable) as opposed to part of the Royal British Legion corporate property (charitable). If it is not charitable, it would not come under our jurisdiction and the Club would own the property. In answer to your question, who really owns it, this will depend on the terms on which the property was bought and who owns it. Unfortunately we do not hold this information.

I am sorry I can't be any further help in this matter.

Yours sincerely


Victoria Crandon

Anonymous said...

jpm has made many comments, most are not the truth.It is amazing the interest jpm and some others have now the club has to close.

JPM said...

Please do point out any untruths and errors in any statement I have made, and let me know how you came about finding it.

Headhunter said...

The club was not publicised enough previously for anyone to take any interest in it. It was blatantly being run into the ground. For example, no one on Manor Ave seems to have been aware that they were able to use it.

Anonymous said...

There are certainly some greedy people involved here. I am aware of what has been happening. Unfortunately I don't think there is anything that can be done about it though.

Jane said...

I have only just come across these postings. They seem to have stopped in October. I have lived in Manor Avenue for many years and am very interested to know what the current situation with no. 60 is. Has the building now been sold ?

Brockley Central Label Cloud