Friends of Alton Station
How we are run
Friends of Alton Station was initially set up in March 2014 as a steering group, with no constitution. We had a single agenda, to save the footbridge at Alton station in Hampshire, UK. In May 2014 we struck a deal with Network Rail - they agreed to repair the footbridge using the budget put aside for the demolition of the footbridge. Our part of the deal was that once the repairs were made, we would have 5 years to source suitable funding to fully restore the footbridge.
The full story of the progress is elsewhere, but the closure of the footbridge in 2015 led us to form into a 'proper' organisation with a constitution and members, launching at our inaugural meeting on 17th September 2015. This form of structure is referred to as an unincorporated association and it means that we have a committee of elected representatives, a yearly Annual General Meeting, an annual report and a bank account. The committee meets roughly once a month.
The problem with an unincorporated association is that the organisation is not a legal entity in the eyes of the law, so the committee members are financially liable for the debts of the association. More pertinently, the association cannot own property, and given the fact that we have decided to take on the ownership of the 1892 footbridge, it is essential that our organisation is able to take on this legal obligation. At the same, we would like to benefit from being a charity, mainly to be able to claim back gift aid on behalf of those making donations. In conclusion, we decided that the comparatively new status of 'CIO' (Charitable Incorporated Organisation) would best suit us. This has all the benefits of being a company limited by guarantee and a charity, but with only one master (Charity Commission).
At the time of writing (April 2017) we have arranged a 'Special General Meeting' on 11th May 2017 to propose the change of organisational structure and the new constitution below: