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Serious shortcomings in council’s proposal

Dear Editor,

Re your article “Council consider setting up committee to decide fate of Maindy Park” I would like to help your readers understand the serious shortcomings in the Council’s proposal.

Firstly, despite several requests, the Council has refused to follow the best practice guidance of the Charity Commission for open recruitment of independent trustees whose only role is to safeguard the best interests of the charity. This means that the Council is still Sole Trustee and will therefore continue to be conflicted as it would benefit by several millions of pounds from the deal.

Secondly, there has been no open advertisement and recruitment of members for this new Advisory Committee. This is contrary to the practice adopted for other external appointments to a Council body or committee.

The Charity land swap does not fall within the remit of the Standards Committee so none of its members have been assessed as to whether they have the right mix of skills, experience and knowledge to properly assess the land swap details and that they understand Charity law.

Thirdly, because of this then it is likely that the Advisory Committee shall need support and guidance in respect of the task. However, this cannot and should not be provided by Officers of the Council or their teams as they are also conflicted by – and required by law to deliver on – the Council decision to build the school. The Council has not revealed who or how the Advisory Committee shall be supported.

Finally, as is clear from the article, the Council has still reserved the actual making of the decision to itself. Paul Orders, Chief Executive, confirmed the correct legal situation earlier this year when he stated that “Just to clarify there are no individual trustees for the Maindy Park trust”. This means it makes no difference if individual Councillors recuse themselves, because it is the Council as a body corporate which is the Sole Trustee. As the Council has already issued legal notice to build a school on Maindy Park it is the Council which is conflicted not individuals.

The only way forward is for the Council to step away completely and follow the Charity Commission guidance, request external assistance for an open process to recruit independent trustees who shall have regard only for the best interests of the Charity, and allow these new trustees to deal with the matter.

If, nearly 2 years on from the conflict of interest first arising, the question is why is Huw Thomas not prepared to relinquish control of the Charity and allow new independent trustees to call the shots? Is it because he is afraid of the outcome?

Yours faithfully,

Ant Warland
Association of The Beneficiaries of the Covenanted Land at Maindy Park & of the Maindy Park trust, Registered Charity Number 524137

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