Eligibility for membership of the charity is defined in section 3 of the charity’s constitution as follows:
3.1 Membership of the charity is open to any resident of Hickling aged 16 years and over, any owner of a second or holiday home in Hickling, the owner of any business currently operating in Hickling and their employees currently working in Hickling. These classes of persons will automatically be deemed eligible to be members; membership is not transferable.
3.2. A member may resign by written notice to the trustees.
'Resident' means any person whose domicile is within the parish boundary of Hickling. 'Hickling' is the parish of Hickling in Norfolk, England.
There is presently in the governing document no requirement to be listed as a member or for a membership list. Membership in this case has been identified by the trustees as the beneficial class of Hickling. This means that if eligible individuals (in addition to the trustees) do attend a meeting and meet the criteria they will be clearly identifiable as a member and have a role to play in exercising their right to vote. Members who are not trustees are not in a fiduciary position and so can vote as they see fit. Trustee members are in a fiduciary role and so would vote in the interests of the charity.
If individuals meet the membership criteria and are physically present at a meeting notified in clause 4.2 of the administrative provisions dated 1 December 2014, it is necessary for the trustees to ensure that those additional members present understand their role as members. This might be, for example, by way of a checklist or policy that can be provided to members at the commencement of a general meeting when the members (i.e. not trustees) are physically present.
In order that all members, including trustees, understand their roles and responsibilities at a general meeting of the charity, an announcement will be made at the commencement of the meeting as follows:
'This is a note of clarification for you all regarding your role here tonight as members of the charity.
As you have signed in and confirmed you are eligible for membership of the charity, you are eligible to vote on the various matters of business. Being a member of the charity and voting does not make you personally liable for anything that you vote about.
Voting will be by simple majority and via a show of hands. We have an independent person here to check the count.
As members of the charity, you are entitled to a personal opinion and to vote however you wish at all times. However, the trustees responsibilities are different as they are required by law to always vote in the best interests of the charity. Consequently their votes may, or may not, reflect their personal opinions.
Before we start the meeting can I check if anyone here tonight feels that there is anyone attending who is not entitled to vote as a member of the charity?'
This policy will be reviewed and updated by the trustees every year at the charity's AGM.