Wednesday, October 06, 2010

NUC at the NEC

Continuing the reverse trawl through today's NEC meeting brings me to the discussion of the NUC at the NEC (NUC = New Union Centre, the somewhat delayed building rising on the site of the former Elizabeth Garrett Anderson hospital which will be our new HQ).

Today we were presented with recommendations from the Finance Committee that, rather than sell the freehold of Mabledon Place once we have vacated it, we should lease the site to a developer on a long lease in return for a cut of the rent which the leaseholder will receive from the tenant when the building has been refurbished.

My concern - which was met sufficiently that I voted for the recommendation - was that we should regularly consider selling the remaining freehold interest in the site. I was persuaded that we would have the flexibility to do this at any time when it was financially advantageous - and was swayed by the fact that the £13 Million we will get up front for the lease will pay off the loan we took out to build the "NUC".

Other NEC members raised the sound point that we could face problems if the leaseholder rented out a site which we still owned (as freeholder) to a tenant whose business was at odds with our aims and values.

Branches may wish to consider a Conference motion instructing the NEC to dispose of the freehold as soon as is consistent with the duties of our trustees (who appeared not to have been kept completely in the loop).

It makes sense to sell a leasehold interest in the property right now, but a trade union should probably not aim to hold its reserves in freehold property in the long term. We don't do well when we do things beyond our basic functions as a trade union (remember CareConnect Learning?)

In fact, given the way this country is going under the ConDems and the possibility of further legal restrictions on the right to strike maybe we need to think about holding our reserves beyond the reach of the UK legal system altogether?
Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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