Conservators Publish Strongly-Worded Letter from Charity Commission

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The Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators have published the letter sent to them by the Charity Commission about the current problems within the organisation.

The Conservator's Board met on 11 November and resolved to accept the recommendations in the Commission’s letter in full, including the Formal Action Plan. There has been a long running disagreement over the valuation of the 'ransom strip' piece of land on Putney Common that was sold to Wandsworth Council to allow a development to take place.

The letter is critical of the Trustees for not satisfying some of the conditions of The Charities Act 2011 - for example advertising an intention to dispose of the land nor obtaining a full surveyor's report but it also criticise some of the 'rebel' trustees for releasing information about the dispute into the public domain including on the forum which has resulted in other relevant information being held back by the surveyors who made the original valuation.

The action plan recommended by the Commission includes agreeing to appoint appropriate legal advisers and a valuer to provide a retrospective valuation of the land taking into account any relevant factors and circumstances at the time of the original transaction. They then are to review the retrospective valuation and determine, with advice, if there has been a loss to the charity arising from the original transaction. If there is any significant difference in valuation the trustees should seek advice as to whether it is appropriate and feasible to recover this loss and from whom. '

If any of the current trustees may be personally liable for any such loss that is identified
they will be conflicted from any further discussions relating to recovery and must declare
any conflict and withdraw from discussions.

The Commission have asked that all documentation relating to the action plan should be forward to them and they be advised of any issues or causes of delay. They have warned that if the action plan does not succeed in resolving the issue and allowing the Trustees to function as they should then a statutory inquiry would be necessary.

The letter states, "The Commission expects a competent board of trustees to be able to resolve these issues for themselves without the need for the Commission’s intervention. Our action or intervention is not a substitute for trustees exercising their duties and responsibilities and taking prudent decisions."

Full text of letter from the Charity Commission

December 3, 2015