Regulator disqualifies two ex-trustees after 'persistent and prolonged failures' at charity

04 Aug 2022 News

The regulator has disqualified two former trustees of a Manchester-based charity from holding any senior management role in a charity for seven years.
The Moss Side and Hulme Community Development Trust is a charity that was set up 20 years ago with the aim to regenerate deprived areas in areas of Manchester. 

The news comes with the publication of the results of the third statutory inquiry into the charity within five years. The disqualified trustees, Hartley Hanley and Mike Bisson, have been found responsible for long-term misconduct or mismanagement at the charity and failed to comply with a Charity Commission order. 

Three statutory inquiries in five years

The first inquiry into the charity was in 2017 as the charity failed to file documents to the Commission on several occasions. The second inquiry was launched a year later after the trustees failed to submit the requested accounting information and could not explain unauthorised payments to trustees. 

That inquiry concluded in 2020 with an order from the Commission that required the two trustees to recruit more trustees, advertise and hold an annual general meeting (AGM) and ensure there was no further trustee remuneration. 

Hanley and Bisson did not produce the report and the regulator made several attempts to contact the trustees. After receiving little to no response, the third inquiry was opened last September. 

During the inquiry, the regulator used its powers to appoint three more trustees who ensured an AGM took place alongside Hanley and Bisson. Before the meeting took place, the trustees removed Hanley as a trustee and Bisson resigned. The remaining three trustees were re-elected and a further two have been appointed since. 

Amy Spiller, head of investigations at the Charity Commission said: “Trustees of charities should show accountability towards the communities they serve, and the wider public. This includes complying with an order of the Commission.
“Mr Hanley and Mr Bisson are responsible for persistent and prolonged failures in the management of this charity. We have taken robust regulatory action to ban these individuals from serving as trustees or senior managers in any charity for seven years. I hope that the new trustee board can deliver on the charity’s aims for the people of Moss Side and Hulme.”

The charity did not respond to a request to comment. 

Unauthorised trustee remuneration

The Commission informed Hanley and Bisson they needed to recruit additional trustees in 2018. The charity’s governing documents states there must be a minimum of four trustees and a maximum of 17 at any one time. 

According to the charity’s accounts, the charity had not had the appropriate amount of trustees since 2009. 

In its second inquiry, the Commission found a trustee had received remuneration between £17,500 - £20,000 per annum from 2013-2015 despite the charity's governing document prohibiting payments to trustees without the approval of the regulator. 

In its 2015 annual report, the charity reported it has assisted over 600 local people at a cost in excess of £60,000 per annum. However, it was later discovered that the centre had not been used between 2015-16. The trustees were not able to evidence what the £60,000 was spent on. 

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