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ChangeUp-funded charity collapses despite Charity Commission clearance

ChangeUp-funded charity collapses despite Charity Commission clearance
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ChangeUp-funded charity collapses despite Charity Commission clearance

Finance | Tania Mason | 17 Sep 2008

A charity funded by Capacitybuilders that was investigated and cleared by the Charity Commission earlier this month after a complaint was lodged about its affairs, ceased to trade at lunchtime on Friday.

Plymouth Community Partnership (PCP), which has been funded by Capacitybuilders to the tune of £342,000 in 2006 and 2007, and was due to receive a further £240,648 from it over the next three years, has replaced its website with a blank page and put a message on its answering machine announcing its demise.

The message says simply: “Plymouth Community Partnership has ceased to trade with effect from 1pm Friday 12 September 2008.”

‘No further role for the Commission’

A Charity Commission spokeswoman said: “We received a complaint about the charity and opened a case into this complaint on 14 August. We asked the charity for information in relation to the complaint and they provided us with details of their commissioned independent investigation into these allegations.

“We were satisfied the charity had acted appropriately and that there was no further role for the Commission and so informed the complainant and the charity. We closed our case on 3 September.”

After being told about the new answering machine message, the Commission spokeswoman added: “We were not aware that the charity had ceased to exist. We will be contacting the charity’s trustees to ascertain what arrangements are being made for the charity’s assets.”

PCP was registered in 2000 with aims to ensure the community sector in Plymouth (pictured) has strategic representation and to increase the knowledge and skills of community groups. It is a member of the local strategic partnership, ‘Plymouth 2020 Partnership’, and also a member of South West Forum. It represents around 400 community groups, many of whom have just renewed their memberships and paid the annual fees.

But recently it has reportedly fallen victim to internal power struggles that have claimed the scalps of its chief executive for the last eight years, Georgie Constable, and other employees.

As confirmed by the Charity Commission, the organisation recently conducted an independent investigation into its affairs, but it is not known whether this contributed to Constable’s departure. She reportedly announced her resignation to the trustee board at the end of July.

The board is chaired by Plymouth’s deputy Lord Mayor, cllr Mary Aspinall, but neither Aspinall nor the council responded to calls from Charity News Alert about the situation.

Accountable for ChangeUp in Plymouth

According to its latest report and accounts, PCP had become “the lead organisation and accountable for the ChangeUp programme in the city”. In the year ended 31 March 2007 it had income of £494,358. It had received funding from a variety of other sources as well as Capacitybuilders, including the Big Lottery Fund, European Regional Development Fund, the Safer and Stronger Communities Fund and Plymouth City Council.

Yet this income was less than half of what it raised the previous year, which was £918,235.

Capacitybuilders said it was aware that Plymouth Community Partnership had ceased trading and a spokeswoman said it was planning to talk with partners about how it can continue to support consortia members.

A spokesperson for PCP, who had told Charity News Alert that a statement would be made about the situation following a board meeting last week, instead declined to make any comment after the meeting.

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