We have toured round many “intentional communities”, co-operatives and the like and have seen various strengths and “opportunities for growth”.
We believe that this outline structure for Foldehampton could (with a bit of tuning) provide the best of all possible worlds. Much of this has been inspired by the work of Charlotte and Ben Hollins (and Sophie Hopkins) at Fordhall Farm, particularly their Fordhall Community Land Initiative (FCLI). Our equivalent will be the Foldehampton Community Land Executive, or FoCLE (until we come up with a better word beginning with an “e”, so that we aren’t confused with FCLI, and so that we can pronounce it “focal”!)
FCLI is a charity: we intend that FoCLE will be too. FCLI was set up as an “Industrial and Provident Society with charitable status“: the IPS structure no longer exists, and has been replaced by either a Community Benefit Society or a Co-operative Benefit Society. We haven’t yet read the necessary documents in detail, but we believe that FoCLE will probably be a Community Benefit Society. The Community Shares website has a good explanation of the difference as well as guidance of the issuance of Community Shares.
There is a page on the Fordhall website (“The Community Landlord“) which gives a good overview of their structure, as well as to a downloadable 28-page booklet “How to set up a community-owned farm“. In addition, we can heartily recommend buying and reading “The Fight for Fordhall Farm” by Charlotte and Ben.
They sold community shares for £50 each to in excess of 8000 people and raised £800,000 in an amazingly short time. We need to sell more and raise more, through a combination of Community Shares sales, crowdfunding, grants, donations and other fund-raising activities in order for FoCLE to buy the land and cover professional fees (planning, surveys, legal, architectural, etc) and administration fees.
Once the land is purchased, people and companies who wish to use the land (residents, commercial enterprises, Foldehampton Farm, Foldehampton Market Garden etc) will either lease (residents who are erecting homes will probably want to buy appropriately-structure 99-year leases, the farm will probably want a long lease: small commercial enterprises will probably want short-term leases, at least at first), or rent land from FoCLE.
In addition (we haven’t yet checked the legal status of this) that FoCLE may want to operate a financial loan scheme for the benefit of residents, and may want to be a shareholder in Foldehampton commercial enterprises.
FoCLE will have a board to guide it, fulfill the legal obligations of the board, act as non-executive directors, and as mentors, patrons and ambassadors. It will be run by a small staff consisting of a Project Manager and a varying number of part-time administrative staff, depending on what projects are underway.
FoCLE will run Annual General Meetings and, from time to time as necessary, Extraordinary General Meetings, at which shareholders may attend, and vote. Votes will be on the basis of one vote per shareholder, irrespective of the number of shares held by any one shareholder.