Leisure trust poses ‘reputational risk’

Thursday, March 14th, 2019 2:05pm

By Niall Griffiths - Local Democracy Reporter

Plans for a charity to take over the running of Monmouthshire’s leisure, youth, culture and tourism services could fall foul of regulations, a councillor has warned.

Councillor Alan Davies fears documents supporting the creation of MonLife pose a ‘significant threat’ to the council’s reputation and finances.

MonLife, a charity acting independently of but funded by the council, was established last year to provide public services on behalf of the local authority.

A Teckal company, MonLife Plus, which runs without private funding and is owned by the council was also established to work alongside the charity.

Councillors had supported the proposals, called an alternative delivery model (ADM), in 2018 amid leisure, youth, culture and tourism budgets being cut by more than £2 million since 2010.

But Cllr Davies told a full council meeting that while supportive of the ADM, he has had ‘nagging doubts’ since it was first proposed in 2016.

“I have concluded that in the form it currently exists, the ADM proposal represents a very significant threat to both the reputation and financial position of this council,” he said on March 7.

“The documentation clearly states the council continue to exercise control over the proposed new organisation. This does not comply with the rules of the Charity Commission.”

“Under charitable law, a charity can be created by the council but cannot exercise any influence over that charity. To do so will inevitably lead to challenge, significant fines and loss of reputation.”

Cllr Davies, the Labour member for Caldicot’s Green Lane ward, went on to say that he had received confirmation from the commission that his observations were ‘absolutely accurate’.

He assured members that the situation could be resolved by making changes to the wording of the current documentation, but it would delay the ADM’s adoption.

A council spokesman said the council has yet to formally proceed with the ADM, though a decision is likely to be made in April.

“There is a case for change but whether it is compelling remains unproven,” he said.

“At this point Cllr Davies’ concerns are helpful and have been raised in a positive spirit.”

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