A charity set up to help disadvantaged Hyndburn youngsters no longer exists, it has been claimed.
To Inspire, formerly known as he Chaigley Manor Trust, was set up 90 years ago to support disadvantaged youngsters in Hyndburn, but has provided no financial update to the Charity Commission since 2013.
A meeting of Hyndburn’s full council was told that it had been wound up in 2014/15.
However, councillors say questions remain over the amount of public money remaining in the charity’s accounts.
A motion by Conservative councillors Judith Addison and Peter Britcliffe calling for the launch of an investigation by the council and Charity Commission into the status of the charity was approved unanimously.
At the meeting on March 23, Coun Addison said: “The 2008 accounts were submitted to the Charity Commission revealing only £12,260 had been paid out from the £24,509 interest. No accounts have been presented since 2011. Surely we should be asking the Charity Commission to intervene?
“I’m surprised that when somebody hasn’t presented accounts for five years that they don’t take some enforcement action or certainly approach them.”
She added: “There are still poor children and young people in Hyndburn today just as there were in the 1920s who could benefit from a holiday in the countryside or maybe need a small grant to help them compete at a national level in a sport of their choice.
“When my parents were young, ordinary working people contributed a small sum weekly from their wages to help fund Chaigley Manor.
“As a responsible council we are doing the citizens of this borough, particularly our younger people, a great disservice if we don’t find out what’s happened to this money and seek to recover it from those entrusted with its administration and distribution.
“I do think as a public body, if we want to show ourselves as a responsible and honourable council, we do need to get to the bottom of this.”
Coun Addison told the meeting that in 2009 the To Inspire charity had acquired a historic farmhouse at Gisburn Forest to operate a residential centre but the former mayor of Ribble Valley confirmed that this centre no longer exists and ceased to function ‘almost three years ago’.
Council leader Miles Parkinson said the council was grateful for Coun Addison and her ‘due diligence’ in bringing the motion.
He said: “We probably wish that Judith takes this to the chief executive and engages with the chief executive to contact the Charity Commission to make progress. We thank you for your hard work.”
Former To Inspire trustee, Church councillor Jean Battle, told the meeting that the charity no longer exists.
She said: “I was a trustee for many years of Chaigley Manor and To Inspire. I tried, because I had the Forestry Commission asking me what happened to the trustees, who the trustees and the chairman were. This went on for a considerable 12 months.
“It was a long drawn out process. It’s up to the Charity Commission to investigate if there’s any money left.”
Coun Peter Britcliffe said: “It was paid from public subscription because the idea was that there was a little bit of Hyndburn in the Ribble Valley and you could send children there for holidays.
“Despite the fact we have pushed people over the years, that’s the first time anybody has really got down to the bottom of what’s happening.”
Chaigley Manor was a children’s home in the Ribble Valley bought by the people of Hyndburn in 1927 for use by the borough’s disadvantaged youngsters.
After being sold for £625,000 in 2001 the fund was put into the care of a trust. A ruling was made that only the interest – around £25,000 per year – should be spent on worthy causes annually.
Although still a registered charity, no accounts have been filed for To Inspire since 2013, according to the Charity Commission website.
Its accounts and annual return for December 31, 2012 are more than 1,000 days overdue, and its documents for the most recent financial year are 140 days overdue. The ‘To Inspire’ website also no longer exists.
According to the Charity Commission website, the object of To Inspire was to benefit young people aged up to 25 with the object of ‘improving their conditions of life’.
A Charity Commission spokesperson said: “We are aware that concerns have been raised regarding the charity To Inspire. We have contacted the trustees to discuss the status of their charity and will assess their response to decide what, if any, regulatory action we will take. There is no statutory inquiry open at this time.”
To Inspire could not be contacted for comment.