Smarter Cambridge Transport needs to change in order for it to be self-sustaining in the long term. We are aiming to formalise the structure of the organisation and seek a mix of funding. The envisaged structure would comprise:
- Governance: a board of (unremunerated) trustees, responsible for recruiting and directing an executive director; making decisions not delegated to staff (e.g. concerning potential conflicts of interest); setting top-level priorities; passing the accounts; reviewing and updating the constitution; etc.
- Advice: an advisory board, comprising people with a wide range of interests and backgrounds, willing and able to provide constructive, critical input into SCT’s activities, policy positions. They would be ‘critical friends’ rather than representatives of SCT.
- Action: a team of employees and volunteers, led by an executive director, involved in making things happen, such as writing consultation responses, fundraising, organising events, etc.
The intention behind having an advisory board is to make it attractive to more professionals to get involved, on the clear understanding that they are not responsible for the activities and policies of SCT.
In order to get the organisation started, it is proposed that we form a small steering group to:
- Define the organisation’s objectives and key policies.
- Form the CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation).
- Appoint trustees.
If you would be interested in applying to join the steering group, please complete this application form and email it to Edward Leigh at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Smarter Cambridge Transport team (excluding Edward Leigh) will review anonymised applications and, assuming we receive enough suitable applications, make a decision about appointments in January.
Actions for the steering group
This is an outline of actions, which will necessarily evolve once the steering group is formed. In consultation with the Smarter Cambridge Transport team, and potentially with professional guidance, the steering group will:
- Agree the formal ‘objects’ (objectives) of the organisation.
- Examine the name and brand to ensure it is future-proof.
- Set and document policies around:
- appointments (trustees, employees, advisory board members, associates, contractors)
- codes of conduct
- employment terms and remuneration
- personal expenses
- contracted work
- data protection and privacy
In most cases, this will be a matter of adapting boilerplate documents to match the specific circumstances, values and objectives of SCT.
- Agree details of the minimum/maximum number of trustees and how long they will serve. Trustees’ first term in office should be staggered (e.g. 1, 2 and 3 years) to avoid all-out elections.
- Appoint (by a mechanism proposed by the steering group) the minimum number of trustees to serve on the board.
- Complete the model constitution and register the organisation with the Charity Commission.
The time commitment is expected to be in the region of two to three hours per week over two to three months for meetings, research and drafting/editing documents. We expect the group to have about five people with a mix of expertise and experience. Please don’t be put off applying if you don’t have experience with charities or transport campaigning. There will be plenty of people available to answer questions, and it should be possible to obtain pro bono professional advice.
We are able to offer the steering group the option of professional guidance (in terms of facilitating groups, rather than expertise in charities or transport).
Background to the transition
Have a positive influence on the development, content and delivery of transport strategies, policies and projects, locally and nationally. In particular, to advance transport that is:
- Environmentally sustainable
- Socially equitable
- Beneficial for public health
- Fair to future generations
- Sensitive to context
- Well designed
- Supportive or regenerative of affected neighbourhoods
- Best value for money, with all the above appropriately monetised
How we achieve this
- Inform decision-makers and influencers about well-evidenced best practice.
- Build a team with credible expertise on all relevant aspects of transport, including place-making, environmental impact, behaviour and personal choices, public health, and value for money.
- Encourage local authorities to communicate, engage and consult more effectively and honestly.
- Challenge and critique professional reports to ensure decisions are made on the basis of good quality data, appropriate options and sound reasoning.
- Disseminate best practice and ideas to professionals in transport and planning through training, conferences, seminars and published, broadcast and social media.
- Promote innovative and progressive ideas in public discourse.
- Gain understanding and trust by establishing relationships with local communities, businesses, schools, universities, and other groups.
- Develop a reputation with local politicians as a neutral, impartial, trusted and authoritative voice on transport and related matters.
- Provide a credible voice to national forums, including respected industry journals and events.
- Partner with other organisations that share our vision and objectives.
- Edward Leigh is unable to sustain his current level of active involvement in SCT; a loss of leadership and reduced capacity to participate in local debate will limit SCT’s effectiveness.
- It is unclear who SCT speaks for, and how much support by team members and registered supporters is implied.
- It is difficult for SCT to take calculated risks without damaging trust as long as decisions are made by informal consensus.
- It is difficult for SCT, as an unincorporated association, to access grant funding and in-kind benefits, which necessarily require proof that the organisation is legitimate and trustworthy.
- Accessing business sponsorship or pitching for paid assignments is likely to be perceived as creating conflicts of interest, potentially damaging trust in SCT.
- The role, status and responsibility of being ‘on the team’ is too loose to be attractive for active professionals who could make a valuable contribution.
How we address those challenges
- Make SCT self-sustaining for the long term by becoming able to:
- access grant funding;
- offer paid-for services that meet SCT objective and leverage SCT’s unique and detailed local knowledge;
- employ staff.
- Refine the organisation’s stated objectives for internal and wider public understanding.
- Formalise processes that foster trust, ensure transparency in decision making, and avoid potential conflicts of interest.
- Develop a long-term strategy and appropriate structure for delivering the above.
Of the corporate structure options available, the most appropriate for SCT is the Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) – Foundation Model (where charity trustees are the only voting members). This has the advantages of charity status and limited liability for trustees, but with reduced administrative burdens compared with a charitable company. The principal limitation of CIO status, the inability to enter into secured borrowing agreements, will not restrict SCT for the foreseeable future.