6th November 2023
Member Letter November 2023
You are invited to attend a Special General Meeting (‘SGM’) of Stansted Airport Watch (‘SAW’) to take place on Wednesday 29 November at Takeley Old School House Community Centre, Brewers End, Takeley CM22 6SB, starting at 8.00pm. Notice is hereby given. If you are planning to attend the SGM, please let us know by 22 November via email to email@example.com or by telephone (01279 870558) to ensure that we provide sufficient seating and car parking spaces.
The purpose of the meeting is to consider future options for SAW, including the recommendation of the SAW Executive Committee to convert SAW into a Discretionary Trust, to be named the Stansted Airport Watch Foundation (‘the SAW Foundation’). In order to bring this about, the following resolution, to be put before the SGM, would require a two-thirds majority of those present and voting.
“The members here present hereby authorise the SAW Executive Committee to proceed with the dissolution of SAW as provided for in Clause 27 of the SAW constitution; to realise any assets held by or on behalf of SAW and, after the satisfaction of any proper debts and liabilities, to transfer the remaining net assets to the SAW Foundation, a Discretionary Trust which will have the same or similar objectives to the objectives of SAW.”
The rationale for this proposal is as follows.
In our June member letter, under the heading ‘The Future of SAW’, I wrote as follows:
“I have said more than once in the past that we need to bring fresh blood onto our Committee. Never has that challenge been more important than today.
I will be standing down as Chairman no later than at next year’s AGM, and our Treasurer, Denise, and Campaign Office Manager, Sarah, have also signalled their intention to retire in the course of the coming year. Most of our other committee members have been with us from the outset (2002) and, as they say, none of us are getting any younger.
When we founded Stop Stansted Expansion 21 years ago, very few of us had any previous experience or expertise of the aviation industry. However, by doing our own research and learning from one another, we were able to build a reasonably competent team in a relatively short period of time.
The baton now needs to be passed on from the current generation to a younger generation. SAW is a members’ organisation and needs the active support of a core team of members if it is to continue to fulfil the purpose for which it was established. I very much hope that there will be a positive response to this plea for new blood. This is a relatively quiet time and so a good opportunity for new recruits to step forward.”
Unfortunately, we did not get the response we had hoped for in our plea for new blood. The reality is that so many of our members already have busy lives, family commitments, and/or other personal priorities. We fully understand that, and there is no criticism, but it does mean that SAW cannot continue in its present form because we will be losing too many key people over the coming months.
There is however a real opportunity to make a virtue out of a necessity. By establishing the SAW Foundation, we will be laying down the seed-corn for the future. In particular, if the threat of a second Stansted runway re-emerges, funds would be available from the outset to kick-start a new campaign.
If the proposed resolution is approved at the SGM, the Executive Committee would proceed to make arrangements for establishing the SAW Foundation and winding down SAW, a process which could take several months. SAW’s assets would be transferred to the SAW Foundation and we anticipate that this would amount to an initial sum of around £90,000 to be placed in the Trust Fund, which would have five trustees. The funds would be invested using a professional investment management firm, chosen by the trustees, in an accumulation fund, aimed at achieving long term capital growth.
The SAW Foundation Trust Deed would incorporate the stated objectives of SAW, as follows:
- To support actions and activities which aim to contain the development and environmental impact of Stansted Airport within sustainable limits and thereby to protect the quality of life of residents over wide areas of Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire and Suffolk, to preserve our heritage, to protect the natural environment, and to limit the impact on climate change.
- In particular, to support actions and activities which may help to prevent the development of one or more additional runways at Stansted Airport.
To provide some continuity, the five initial trustees would be current long-serving members of the SAW Executive Committee. Over time, the intention would be to replace the initial trustees with representatives from local district, town and parish councils.
Whilst there would be a number of positive benefits in establishing the SAW Foundation, there would undeniably be negative consequences from winding down SAW. We would no longer be a member organisation and so there would be no subscriptions, no newsletters, no website and no office services. Even now, we barely have the volunteers needed to maintain these core elements of SAW.
We are still considering how the trustees of the SAW Foundation, either individually or collectively, might continue to provide advice and support to local district, parish and town councils and the wider local community on the environmental impacts of Stansted Airport. We will aim to ensure that we archive our electronic files and key documentation, some of which goes back 21 years. We will also aim to ensure that, wherever possible, projects currently underway are seen through to completion.
Ultimately, however, local district, parish and town councillors and our local MPs will need to become more directly involved in dealing with the environmental impacts of Stansted Airport. This will include dealing with their constituents’ concerns about the airport’s activities and holding the Department for Transport and other government departments and agencies to account, as required.
The SGM will provide an opportunity for members to ask further questions of the SAW Executive Committee, and a good attendance should help ensure that we arrive at the optimal outcome, in line with our long established campaign objectives, having regard to all the circumstances.