Agenda item

Managing Director's Update Report

Report of the Managing Director of Bridge House Estates (BHE)


The Board considered a report of the Managing Director of BHE providing an update on key areas of activity across the whole charity since the Board last met in November 2022 and outlining upcoming activities for the Board to note.


The Chair introduced the item by congratulating all those involved with the progression of the Supplemental Royal Charter, the grant of which had been approved by His Majesty the King upon the advice of the Privy Council the previous week. The Chair advised that the Great Seal would now be affixed to the Charter, at which point it would take effect, and it was hoped that this would take place before the end of the financial year.


The Managing Director of BHE introduced the report and drew Members’ attention to the key points, first introducing representatives from Bates Wells attending the meeting and thanking them for their support in progressing the Supplemental Royal Charter. The Managing Director of BHE then introduced Sacha Rose-Smith, the charity’s Chief Funding Director, on her first meeting of the Board. The Managing Director of BHE added that the BHE Head of People was now in post and would provide specific HR provision for the charity.


Lead Members

The Chair then drew Members’ attention to the recommendation to appoint Lead Members for key policy areas for the charity, including Safeguarding, Climate Action and EDI. In response to questions from Members, the Managing Director of BHE advised that the Climate Action brief would include joint working with the City Corporation on its Climate Action Strategy, and would flow through the charity’s investment work. The Chair added that there remained ambition from the Board to improve upon the climate action targets agreed by the City Corporation, and a Lead Member would be helpful for driving this.


Members discussed whether the brief in respect of Safeguarding should be expanded to Public Safety more generally, noting that suicide prevention was the key driver for a Lead Member in this area. A Member commented that measures in respect of the bridges also affected road users, pedestrians and other groups and that framing the brief around safeguarding risked protective safety becoming a secondary consideration. The Comptroller and City Solicitor advised that in this context, safeguarding encompassed public safety and other elements in the protection of the public and bridge users, and this was set out in the charity’s agreed Safeguarding Policy. However, Members commented that the word ‘safeguarding’ had particular connotations and suggested that the Lead Member brief be recognised as ‘Safeguarding including Public Safety’.


A Member added that Lead Members should be able to identify proposals within the context of their brief, but that these needed to be linked to and compatible with the charity’s agreed strategic direction and within the authority agreed by the Board.


The Chair then sought expressions of interest in the various policy areas, noting that Alderman Alison Gowman and Judith Pleasance had previously expressed interest in appointment as Lead Member for Climate Action and EDI respectively, and that Alderman Professor Emma Edhem and Deputy James Thomson had subsequently expressed an interest in the EDI and Safeguarding including Public Safety briefs. Following the Board’s consideration, it was agreed to appoint Alderman Alison Gowman, Deputy James Thomson, and Judith Pleasance as Lead Member for Climate Action, Safeguarding including Public Safety, and EDI respectively.


Foundation Practice Rating (FPR)

The Managing Director of BHE drew Members’ attention to the FPR received by CBT, noting that the lowest score received was in respect of Diversity, and that measures would be taken to improve this. In response to a question from a Member, the Managing Director of BHE advised that BHE Board membership had been part of the assessment, noting that there was limited ability to influence this, given the electoral process involved in the appointment of Board Members. The Chair commented that there was clearly work to do in this area, which would be brought back to Members, as well as relevant training.


A Member commented that the diversity of the Court of Common Council had improved which may be reflected on the Board in due course, and that the Board could emphasise this point in the recruitment of Co-opted Members. The Managing Director of BHE confirmed that this had been accounted for within the recruitment process.


Tower Bridge

The Board noted the positive performance of the visitor attraction at Tower Bridge, which was returning to pre-pandemic levels. In response to a question from a Member, the Managing Director of BHE confirmed that Tower Bridge was linked into the wider Destination City initiative, and that the visitor development and marketing teams had undertaken work to ensure that visitors were driven from the bridge into the City of London.


RESOLVED – That the BHE Board, in the discharge of functions for the City Corporation as Trustee of BHE and solely in the charity’s best interests:


i)              Note the contents of the report;


ii)             Appoint as Lead Member for the Board:


·         Deputy James Thomson - Safeguarding and Public Safety (with current focus on Suicide Prevention),

·         Alderman Alison Gowman - Climate Action, and

·         Judith Pleasance - Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

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