For the past 3 years, the trustees of the 4 Winds Trust have consistently denied that there are any issues with the governance of the charity. Anyone who asked questions or complained about the running of the Trust or its failure to be accountable to its members or the wider public was personally attacked and publicly derided for being “vexatious”.
Only when the truth came to light, in the form of a condemnatory letter from OSCR, the charities’ regulator, exposing multiple instances of poor governance, did the trustees come up with a mealy-mouthed admission of any wrong-doing. Tellingly, they continued to hide behind an anonymous spokesperson.
While they admitted in last week’s Central Fife Times that they have been breaking the law for the past 3 years, we are then asked to forgive them as they were ignorant of the law! When has ignorance ever been a reasonable excuse for breaking the law?
Remember the two trustees primarily responsible for running the Trust over the last 3 years, Stevie Murray and Brian Schulz, are not naive teenagers. Both have been on Lochgelly Community Council for years, where they currently serve as Chair and Secretary; both have held office in the union Unison and both are employed in managerial positions by Fife Council. Did they really not bother to read the rules, or even the terms of the 4 Winds constitution when they became trustees?
The charity has been mismanaged, never supplying minutes, never supplying accounts, and when they eventually did, OSCR found them to be woefully lacking and unacceptable.
The limited data now in the public domain – not that this information has been made publicly available by Messrs Schulz and Murray – has only muddied the waters further. The trustees are failing to distribute all the money they receive from Kennedy Renewables, and no-one seems to know what the money is being spent on.
Of course if the trustees had managed to provide compliant accounts and minutes, local community groups whom the Trust exists to fund would have a better idea of the Trust’s criteria in making awards and how they might make a succesful application.
As it is, no one can see how the trustees avoided making awards where there are obvious conflicts of interest. In short, it looks like community councillors awarded money to community councils and community groups they are involved with.
There really can be no justificaction for trustees who have presided over three years of acknowledged mismanagement to remain in post. They have not responded to OSCR’s ruling or the loss of public trust by opening up their books to public scrutiny. Instead they have continued to brand complaints as “vexatious”, attacked me personally and maligned my intentions. Their spokesperson has even tried to pretend that I would have wanted to see all the community groups they have funded deprived of funds. How ridiculous.
The four community councils who have the ultimate responsibility for the 4 Winds Trust need to take action immediately and sack those responsible for the serious breaches in governance. A new set of trustees needs to be put in place to ensure that community benefit is distributed fairly and open to full public scrutiny.