Modernising our governance

Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation is governed by a board of Trustees, whom have historically been elected from the organisation’s governors. To improve the breadth and diversity of the board, an appointments process is to be launched to invite new and diverse Trustees to the board. The board have made a commitment to ensuring the majority of our Trustees are Letchworth residents.

In 2020, the Board of Trustees of Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation began to review the Foundation’s governance model which had remained substantially unchanged since the Foundation was set up in 1995. Much has changed in governance practice and standards since then and the Board wanted to ensure that our model was reflective of best practice and provided the Foundation with the widest opportunities to be able to appoint a diverse, skilled and active set of trustees who will lead and prepare us for the future.

The review was delayed because of the pandemic and the ensuing financial crisis that hit the Foundation but was revisited later in the year by a Governance Review Group. Throughout much of this year the group has been discussing and consulting with Governors on a range of proposals for change that would bring the Foundation more into line with the practice set out in the Charity Code of Governance; a series of standards that many charities and foundations across the UK are working to adopt. The most significant of those changes is to introduce an open, transparent and competitive appointments process for a limited number of Trustees who would sit alongside the current Trustees who are appointed via election from current Governors. The Board strongly felt this change would provide an opportunity to target people with particular skills that are currently absent in the Board and attract people with different lived experiences of the work and issues we are trying to tackle such as poverty or work with families and children in early years learning. This change would also support our wider review on diversity, equality and inclusion which we are also undertaking.

Chris Pattison, the Trustee who has led the Governance Review Group said: “I have really enjoyed working with Trustees and Governors to arrive at a shared vision on how we need to transform our Governance. The Board will be more dynamic as it faces the challenges post-Covid and more diverse, reflecting the residents of Letchworth. This is a big step forward for the Foundation as it gears up to help support the recovery of the town.”

The Board put forward proposals that would also ensure that the majority of the Foundation’s Trustees will always be residents of Letchworth Garden City as no such requirement presently exists, and to extend the period of appointment for trustees to four years to provide greater stability to the Board and to help with succession planning. 

All these proposals were voted on and have been supported by a minimum of two-thirds of our Governors earlier this month. Over the coming weeks the Board will now formalize those changes and more significantly will commence the first ever open recruitment campaign to appoint a number of new Trustees.

The Board of Trustees is chaired by Pam Burn, who concluded: “The Heritage Foundation is fundamentally here to make Letchworth a great place for everyone who lives and works here – it makes total sense that it is those people who should have a say in the way the Foundation is run, so I’m delighted that these changes are happening now.”

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