Changes to the way that Gunnersbury will be governed

The Cabinets of both Councils are being asked to approve plans for changes to the way Gunnersbury will be governed and managed in the future. The Gunnersbury Park and Museum Development Trust, which is a registered charity, will take the lead role and the Community Interest Company (Gunnersbury Estate (2026) CIC) will become its operational arm and trading subsidiary. The Trust’s constitution will be amended to allow up to 16 members, two of whom will be nominated by the two Councils. There will be an open selection process for both the Chair of the new body and four new trustees, and two each from the existing members of the CIC and the Development Trust will be appointed as “continuity” trustees.

This model – of a charitable trust with a trading arm – is a long-established and well-known model. For example, when The Friends won the catering contract for the park in the 1980s, we set up Gunnersbury Enterprises, with its profits covenanted to the charity, to employ the staff and run the business.

The reasons for the change are described in the paper which will go to both Cabinets later this month. The current arrangements make fund-raising difficult, especially the large-scale fund-raising from charitable trusts and foundations which will be needed for major works to, for example, the Small Mansion, the Stables and the model Farm site. A unified structure will improve strategic planning and the management of operations, and should achieve greater public transparency and community engagement, both of which are regarded as fundamental to future success.

Research by David Lambert (here) into models of funding public parks showed that, as long as their owners (the councils) provided long-term, secure base funding, there was a good chance that management through bodies such as charitable trusts could support parks successfully, both in funding terms and for all the other benefits parks can provide for their users. Both Ealing and Hounslow have dug deep to support Gunnersbury in recent years and, with nominated members, the retention of their ultimate ownership and carefully-managed relationships, there is every chance that this new model of governance will work to Gunnersbury’s future benefit.

You can read the paper by clicking on: “Establishment of a unified governance structure for the Gunnersbury Park estate”

There are 7 downloadable appendices:
Appendix 1 – Articles of the Gunnersbury Museum and Park Development Trust
Appendix 2 – Articles of the Gunnersbury Estate (2026) CIC
Appendix 3 – Nominations Committee Terms of Reference
Appendix 4 – Interim Strategic Plan
Appendix 5 – Options appraisal: governance structure
Appendix 6 – Options appraisal: selection of Continuity Board members
Appendix 7 – Implications of Local Authority Influenced Companies
Confidential Appendix 8 – Advice on Procurement Implications

James Wisdom
2nd January 2022