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Errors have been made, say trustees

TRUSTEEES of Chaigley Manor have hit back at critics of their cash management - but admitted mistakes have been made.

TRUSTEEES of Chaigley Manor have hit back at critics of their cash management - but admitted mistakes have been made.

Chairman of the trustees, Grant Eals, this week accepted they had not been open enough about changes within the charity, when he addressed the annual meeting.

Several members of the public, including former trustees, raised questions about the financial operations of the charity after the Ribble Valley manor house was sold for £605,000.

Scotland-based Mr Eals insisted there was "no secrecy" and added that the money from the sale had been invested and the interest used to support various local initiatives.

He said: "The trustees took a managed risk with the capital and did not invest it in the Stock Exchange, which we were advised to do, but kept it in a Treasury Reserve, which has proved us right as the interest has earned more than any investment."

Chaigley Manor, which was brought by the people of Accrington at the turn of the century and used as a holiday home for needy children, was sold for more than £250,000 over its valuation price. The invested cash produces an income of about £16,800 a year, depending on interest rates.

One member of the public, who had raised money for Chaigley Manor, said that the public had been left in limbo by the lack of information, sparking rumours about the finances of the Chaigley Trust.

Mr Eals admitted that they had not been as open as they could have been and put it down to the small number of trustees left.

He added: "The Chaigley Trust intends to be here to support the children of Hyndburn for a long time. There is no hidden agenda, we are as open as the Charity Commission allows us to be."

Mr Eals admitted the charity had been late handing in its accounts for last year. He said: "We had a one-off problem last year but that was resolved quickly. I do accept from our point of view that it was bad practice."

He said the accounts had always been done by Hyndburn Council free of charge but the charity was getting a professional accountant to complete them in future.

Mr Eals said that the Trust would be seeking more professional help as to how to invest funds.

The meeting was told how the Trust's work had changed since the closure of the manor.

Secretary Nicole Cook said they had helped more children this year than ever before and showed a file of thank-you letters, which they plan to put on public display.

During this year, each primary school in Hyndburn was given the chance to apply for trips for their Year Six pupils, paid for by the Trust. Over 1,000 youngsters enjoyed visits to places such as Camelot, Black-burn Ice Rink and Robinwood Activity Centre.

Mr Eals added: "We are changing the status of Chaigley Manor. As there is no building we are going to be a grant-giving trust."

Former chairman of the Chaigley Trust, Derek Glover, raised concerns about the spending of capital from the sale of Chaigley Manor but Mr Eals allayed his fears, adding: "That capital will not be touched and we will agree, if that is what you want, for that to be written into the deed of trust.

"Some of the requests that we have had for funding this year would have eaten away at the capital, so we said no to them."

Mr Eals invited applications for funding for projects and for new trustees. Anyone who would like more information on the Chaigley Trust can contact Nicole on 604672.

The Trust also provides a bus, which can be hired by schools and community groups through Karen at Ribble Valley Community Transport on 01200 444484.


Stuart Pike
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