Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Skateboarding News

Q: When is a charity both a charity and a company?
A: When it's a charitable company!

Thanet Community Development Trust (TCDT) has recently demanded a 100% plus rent hike from Revolution Skate Park in Broadstairs, precipitating its imminent closure, and thus depriving the Ile's youth of anything more constructive than nose picking and intense scrutiny of Britney Spears websites to occupy their idle minds.

Although the first four words of its website boldly state: "We are a charity", TCDT would be more accurately described as a 'charitable company'. A quick check at Companies House provides the information that its registered company number is 04385681, and its registered address is 21 Norfolk Road, Cliftonville, Margate, CT9 2HU. Its type is 'Private, limited by guarantee, no share capital'. It was incorporated on 1 March 2002. Its SIC(03) code is 9133, which means it's classified as a 'Member Organisation', sub-classification 'Other Membership Organisations'.

A search of the Charity Commission's database reveals that it was also registered as a charity (no. 1049701), on 21 November 2002, with its memorandum and articles stating that it was set up for:

THE PROMOTION AND ADVANCEMENT FOR THE PUBLIC BENEFIT OF URBAN AND RURAL REGENERATION IN THE ISLE OF THANET BY ALL OR ANY OF THE FOLLOWING MEANS:-

Including:

THE PROVISIONS AND MAINTENANCE OR ASSISTANCE IN THE PROVISION AND MAINTENANCE OF RECREATIONAL FACILITIES FOR THE PUBLIC AT LARGE AND/OR THOSE WHO, BY REASON OF THEIR YOUTH, AGE, INFIRMITY OR DISABLEMENT, POVERTY OR SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC CIRCUMSTANCES, HAVE NEED OF SUCH FACILITIES;

and

THE CREATION OF TRAINING AND EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES BY THE PROVISION OF WORKSPACE, BUILDINGS AND/OR LAND FOR USE ON FAVOURABLE TERMS.

I suppose they would argue that, even at £43,000 a year, Revolution is still getting 'favourable terms'.

Trustees are listed as:

AILEEN CHRISTODOULOU
ANNE LORD
HELEN JEZEQUEL
COUNCILLOR MRS SPENCER
JOHN HOLMES
PAUL DICKENSON
RICHARD CHAPMAN
BOB BAYFORD
TERESA BIRCHLEY
EWE DERKSEN

I suggest you let them know how you feel, although don't be too hard on them as the charity, er, company's latest accounts to 31 March 2005 state that they received no remuneration or expenses that year, poor lambs.

In the meantime, don't forget to sign the park's online petition.

4 comments:

Cllr David Green said...

Until Labour lost control of TDC in 2003, I was a Council nominated trustee of Thanet Community Development Trust. It was set up as a charity to administer part of the Council’s allocation of Single Regeneration Budget and European Regeneration Development Fund grants, i.e. the part allocated towards community development as opposed to “hard” regeneration of the built environment or business development. Another quarter went towards “spacial development” to develop a fund to provide services to our business parks to make them more attractive to inward investors.

The theory was that TCDT would invest the monies to provide sustainable future funding for community development. It would also be in a better position than the Council to apply for other funding streams for community development in Thanet.

As a charity, the Trust were not allowed to make a profit out of any of its activities of course. So to facilitate this, shortly before I left we set up a Charitable Company, the idea being that any profit this company made would pass to the trust. There was talk also of forming a further company to operate on a broader basis than Thanet alone.

It was at this time that the opportunity arose to invest in the land currently occupied by the Skate Park. I supported the investment, it “saved” the park, and gave the Trust further land to lease to other “community” businesses and to provide space for start up enterprises. We also set up the current training premises “The Academy” in Cliftonville which was intended to provide “community capacity building courses” cross subsidised by commercially based courses.

At a later date, I had a hand in persuading KCC to grant part of the old Hereson School site in Lilian Road, Ramsgate to the Trust to develop a Family Centre. Again the idea being to rent out space to provide sustainable funding for reinvestment.

Towards the end of my time the attitude of the funding bodies changed, and instead of block funding bodies like TCDT, they preferred individual projects, which TCDT could and did apply for. This meant that funding core staff became more difficult, and some of us on the Trust wondered whether the overhead the Trust represented, was worth the gain to community development in Thanet.

My understanding is that the salaries of the permanent staff of the Trust are paid by the Company. In my time there was active discussion of how much control of the companies would be retained by the trustees. I and others fought some quite difficult battles on behalf of the Trustees.

In 2003, the Tories took over control of the Council and Cllrs Bayford and Spencer became the Council’s nominees to the Trust. Since then, we have had no reports back to the Council, so I cannot comment on the current state of play.

I cannot really add to the current debate over the skate park, except to say the terms and duration of the lease have been known since the trust first leased the land. On the other hand, subsidy of a facility such as the skate park would be within the remit of the Trust. The fact that the Skate Park is a private company is a complicating factor.
I believe the Trust (especially the Council nominees) should have seen this coming and dealt with it.

tony flaig said...

This all looks rather heavy to me, still Ive been up since 5 worked with sweat for several hours got home at 7 done blogging for the night, AND AM SHOCKED AT THE APPARENT SERIOUS TONE OF YOU DIATRIBE , will consider adequate responce over night. I come here to be entertained Mr Dickcliff

Anonymous said...

According to the Charity Commissioners TCDT are required by law to present accounts within 10 months of a period. If 2004/5 accounts were late, then its nice to know that eminent Cllrs listed as Trustees can be held to account. Cllrs acting as trustees need to keep up to flying speed on the 'charity' they are trustees for, as they are collectively responsible for its financial affairs. Cllr Green might be pleased he is no longer a trustee!

Anonymous said...

Helen Jezequel? Is that Sandy Ezekiel's 'nom de plume'?