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On 1 January 2012 the Open Spaces Society gains company status, registered in England and Wales as a company limited by guarantee, number 7846516. This follows our special general meeting on 23 November where members voted unanimously that the society should become a company. The society will continue to be known as the Open Spaces Society. We remain a charity too, with the new number 1144840. We have registered our full title, the Commons, Open Spaces and Footpaths Preservation Society, as a dormant company.
In adopting the memorandum and articles of association, we have maintained as much as possible of our old constitution. The principal reason for the transfer to a company was significantly to reduce trustees’ personal liability.
We reproduce below the explanation from our chairman, Tim Crowther, at the special general meeting on 23 November.
‘Many years ago I worked for a government property agency. It was in the days when many such organisations had coats of arms. Nowadays they have acronyms and logos. Beneath the rampant beasts of my employer’s arms was the motto semper aliquid novi–translated rather freely as ‘always something new’. In case you are interested, this was an incomplete and out-of-context 2000-year-old quotation from Pliny the elder.
‘I have always thought this was a good maxim to adopt. I relish change when it is embraced positively. The society would not have survived for 146 years had it not changed with the times.
‘The core objectives of the society have remained intact over the years. It is the way in which these objectives are delivered that has continually been changing. The incorporation of the society is a significant milestone for us but in itself it doesn’t outwardly change anything. We shall remain a small, influential, campaigning organisation focused on what we do best.
‘One of the main reasons for incorporation is that it gives financial protection and reassurance (in the form of limited liability) to our trustees.
‘Incorporation also provides a real and appropriate opportunity and incentive for innovation and change. Change has never been faster, and it will never be slow again. The society has already embarked on that process of change. Shortly we shall have the results of the marketing exercise that we commissioned. This will provide ideas on how we can increase our membership, stimulate fund-raising, gain publicity and enhance our status. We are continually reviewing the governance of the society.
‘This county is moving towards becoming a truly networked nation. As a society, we must embrace these new technologies, by recognising the power of social media and all the powerful opportunities for online fund-raising. But let us not forget our existing loyal members who provide the platform for change.
‘And in the wider world it is improving the context in which we live that must be the underlying theme in what we do.’