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OPEN LETTER TO LITTLE THETFORD VILLAGE RESIDENTS


It is with regret that I have to inform you that the Board of Trustees of the Little Thetford Community Land Trust have resigned en masse from their positions. As a body corporate we have always acted in accordance with the Sealed Model Rules approved by the Financial Conduct Authority and, where necessary, on the professional advice from the qualified technical advisers from the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority.

The CLT was set up to meet the need for attainable homes for young and old alike to rent at below market rates. The allocation for those properties would be through an allocations policy developed and run by the CLT, focused on local people. It was never the intention that this would be handed to an external body such as Sanctuary Housing to manage. Therefore the village would not only be in charge of its own destiny but would, over time, build up a considerable asset bank held in perpetuity under an asset lock - in simple terms always under the control and ownership of the local community. Apart from the housing, a considerable local community benefit would accrue putting local community finances on a very firm footing to enable facilities to be established and improved.

However, when the CLT Trustees attempted to inform the residents of Little Thetford of the detail and plans to achieve this, the events were overtaken by a small group, some of whom intimidated and harassed vulnerable people in the community personally and on social media both in the lead up to and during the Events. Threats were made to individuals, abuse levelled at attendees and Trustees some of which unfortunately had racial overtones, ending in the police being called. The Trustees were asked by the police to confirm that the hall could be managed safely. However, given the earlier behaviour of a small group it was decided that safety could not be guaranteed and further meetings were cancelled.

The Trustees gave considerable thought to the selection of the Holt Fen site, going through a rigorous process using the information made available to them. We acknowledge that the choice of site was going to be controversial, albeit when residents purchased their houses in Palisade Court and the surrounding streets it was well known that building was extremely likely to happen in the future. The Trustees had concerns on the location, financial viability and building strategy of the other site when the selection was made. At the aborted meeting on Thursday a resident in raised a question about whether the land located at the rear of Dewsbury Gardens can be developed since residents have a Clause in their conveyancing documents which states that the land will not be developed for several years. This will require more action before it can be confirmed.

Some of you may feel that the Members have lost the trust in the Trustees, but that also works in the other direction where the Trustees have lost trust in some of the current Membership (not the community) to act in accordance with the Rules and Codes of Conduct. None of the current Trustees are willing to invest further time in this project given some of the current membership have shown how they intend to cause harm or reputational damage to members of our community. The Members are therefore invited to advertise and hold a Special Meeting in accordance with the Rules to appoint new Trustees.

The outgoing Trustees have invested considerable time and effort in bringing the CLT forward as there was a genuine belief that this would provide attainable homes, community benefits and act as a deterrent to speculative builders. Unfortunately there are no winners in the current situation and the Trustees believe that for there to be any chance of putting this back on track it would be through a new Board of Trustees dedicated to put in the necessary time and effort over the coming years.

Outgoing Board of Trustees for the Little Thetford Community Land Trust 21 September 2021