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Eddie

Barton Trust Centre to be sold off

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ONE of Gloucester's most iconic community buildings is to be sold off after a charity racked up debts of £70,000. The Trust Centre in Conduit Street, home to Gloucester FM, Gay Glos and education and training facilities, faces an uncertain future.

The Barton and Tredworth Community Trust, which owns the building, is in debt to Barton and Tredworth Developments Limited, a company set up to help businesses start up and regenerate the area.

Current BTCT chairman Carol Francis said the building would be sold to recoup the money.

She said: "It is definitely regrettable, but we're only going to sell it to someone who will take it on with our tenants. There is plenty of room for a new owner to use the building, but we want it to be kept for community use."

She admitted the trust had debts of around £70,000, most of which are owed to Barton and Tredworth Developments Limited, which she said was also facing financial difficulties.

Derrick Francis, chairman of Gloucester FM, said he was disappointed with the decision to sell the building. But he added that he was glad the trust was seeking a community-minded buyer.

Disappointed

GFM were granted a five-year licence back in March to operate in the community until 2016.

Derrick said: "We hope and pray that whoever takes over can retain us in the building." He said there had been a sense among users of the building that something was going wrong.

He said: "I wouldn't say I was shocked – just disappointed. We (GFM) had been there before the refurbishment, and we were there when it was refurbished, so we saw the growth and then the decline."

Gloucester City councillor Saj Patel (Con. Barton and Tredworth) said: "I'm very disappointed that the building is going to be sold off."

He said most of the community "were not aware of what the building was being used for".

The BTCT is a registered charity and company limited by guarantee, run by a voluntary management committee – all of whom are from the area. Many educational classes, such as computer courses, and activities like self-defence for women are held at the centre.

It is also used by organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, housing associations, health groups and police, for meetings.

The Trust's aim is to improve the quality of life for people living in Barton and Tredworth, through education, training and leisure facilities.

http://www.thisisglo...tail/story.html

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I do wonder if the building is legally theirs to sell. I heard that it was donated to the people of Barton & Tredworth, to be used for the community in perpetuity. Is it lawful to sell it off in order to clear debts?

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The garden certainly has to be kept open to the public. I beleive there is a covenant that requires this.

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That garden seems to be hardly ever open to the public. What are its opening times?

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Hi

I agree with Kay.

I went to the land Registry a few weeks ago to check on the Title Deeds, but all they've got is a record stating 'Title Deeds not seen' or some such, and the last record about 2001. They also pointed out the only record of any restrictive use would be on the Title Deeds themselves, and unless the Deeds themselves are registered, they'd have no record.

So all you have to do is 'lose' the Title Deeds, register your ownership, then you can ignore any restrictions and sell to property developers!

I know most of the 'Trustees' of the Centre, and the hard work they do supporting our community. But can we trust them with the sale of the building? Especially with the mess they created.. Some of them have their own 'pet projects', and I'd hate to see funding directed there. All Trustees should recuse themselves from any decisions re the sharing of profits from any sale.

As far as I know, they weren't elected by the people of Barton/Tredworth, but out of the few who turned up at that meeting. Tig makes the valid point that the Centre is for all of us, but how many people actually know what it does?

I'm looking into Freedom of Information Act to see if I can use that to look into this mess. Both at the Trust Centre and BTD.

Thanks

(Very Angry)

Paul Harries

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Please keep us informed Paul. It is an important issue.

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Hi

Spoke to one of the Trustees earlier.

She said that they couldn't find the Title Deeds, nor the original paperwork that set up the organisation and included their mission statement, but they did look. She also said that the decision had been made to sell at one of the meetings when hardly anyone turned up, but the building wasn't to support the whole Batron/Tredworth community, just the few from that community who were signed up as members!

Not sure how that stands with the initial setup/funding, and any restrictions imposed on the (missing) Title Deeds.

She also pointed out that any remaining funds will be kept by the organisation, but how can they continue without a venue? Where wil members be able to go and voice their opinions and get acces to the services the organisation is supposed to provide? And what will happen to those funds?

Since I'm a Member, she's agreed to provide access to any documents they have, but the important Title Deeds and start-up docs are missing.

I've asked for an urgent meeting with Richard Graham, and for advice from GAVCA. I'll get hopefully get some answers there next week. I'm also trying to access the files from Community Counts (wherever they are), since they might have a bearing on funding.

I have nothing against individual Trustees, but al this happened behind closed doors, and stating that the Centre is only there to serve members, (as a private club), and not the greater community is concerning.

Thanks

Paul Harries

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The garden certainly has to be kept open to the public. I beleive there is a covenant that requires this.

I believe that the garden is not open to the public any more and is not being maintained. Has any local person tried to use the garden lately? If so, were you able to?

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All of the information from Paul Harries is very interesting. If the decision to sell the building was taken at a meeting where hardly anyone turned up, then there was certainly not a quorum. Given that there also hasn't been a quorum at the last two AGMs, it seems that a few people are totally in control of this charity and can do as they like. So much for the claims on their website that it serves the community as a whole. It seems that it serves only a few cliques. Presumably, it has received lots of donations over the years, but doesn't seem to benefit the wider community. It always seems to be locked, so it isn't at all welcoming to potential visitors.

Has anyone looked at their website? it's hosted for free by SoftData, but it hasn't been updated since April 2010. I guess that some people don't appreciate stuff that they get for free.

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Hi

Just received some info re their Articles of Association earlier

"

10
If upon the winding up or dissolution of the Association there remains, after the satisfaction of all its debts and liabilities, any property whatsoever, the same shall not be paid to or distributed among the members of the Association, but shall be given or transferred to some other charitable institution or institutions having charitable objects similar to the objects of the Association, which shall prohibit distribution of its or their income and property among its or their members to an extent at least as great as is imposed on the Association under or by virtue of Clause 4 hereof such institution or institutions to be determined by members of the Association at or before the time of dissolution, and if the and so far as effect cannot be given to such provision, then to some other charitable object."
So it seems they can't just sell off the building and keep the proceeds for other Trust projects.
And their last accounts posted in March 2011 (for period up to May 2010), it states:

"Independent examiner's statement (Qualified Opinion)

In connection with my examination, the following matters have come to my attention:

• The overall cost of the modernisation of the Trust Centre may not be fully reflected in the open market

value of the premises. In addition, restrictive covenants exist which may affect its valuation. Due to

uncertainty over the value, and the continual maintenance programme, the Management Committee

have decided not to apply depreciation to freehold property.

• The charity continues to operate at a deficit, leading to uncertainty over its long term future unless new

sources of funding can be sourced.

Funds designated as restricted, i.e. intended for a defined purpose, have been used for unrestricted

purposes within the objects ofthe charity, due to the deficiency in unrestricted funds
."

and.... (my bold)

"
Restrictive covenants exists over the freehold property. There is a restrictive covenant indemnity

policy in the event of the covenants preventing the use of the property as a community centre
.

The overall cost of the modernisation of the Trust Centre may not be fully reflected in the open

market value of the premises. Due to uncertainty over the value, and the continual maintenance

programme, the Management Committee have decided not to apply depreciation to freehold

property.

On the ls` November 2005, land adjacent to the Trust Centre was transferred from Gloucester City

Council to the charity for the purpose of a community garden. The land was transferred at nil

value. A restrictive covenant attached to the land exists for the purpose of sole use as a

community garden."

Watch this space....

Paul Harries

PS Sorry about the formatting - cut'n paste
:(

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Did you hear back from Richard Graham or GAVCA ?

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Interesting post, Paul. It seems that the "Community Garden" is not open to the "community". Someone should tell Gloucester City Council that their gift is being misused.

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Hi

Went there about 45 mins ago. All locked up.

Some Job Hub onsite, but no-one from the Trust. Certainly no-one who could answer questions. (Carol Francis should be there about now, but going through one of my diabetic 'energy drains' and can't go). :(

Haven't heard from Richard Graham about this (yet) this week, but sure he will get back to me. (Would have had meeting already, but other local event scuppered that idea).

There seems to some movement on the issue. Not sure if it's because of me, or was already happening behind the scenes. Half expect banging on my door with pitchforks. (Or whatever modern equivalent is). :P

Very Tired

Paul Harries

Edit: Oh, spoke to Charity Commission earlier. They're going to send me copies of the Articles of Association for the Trust.

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Hi

I've had answer back from our MP. He's checking with the Trust & GAVCA first before coming back to me.

Had an email from one of the trustees from the charity commission to her. States that the Trust could sell property, under certain conditions. Small print states that the Trust must have a public meeting to discuss the situation if the building is the only one the charity has or operates out of. (As in this case). Anyone heard of one yet? I certainly haven't.

Another thing is that it seems there is a provision that the Trust can't sell off the property if the Trust dissolves, but it can sell it otherwise. I'm concerned they'll sell the building (through Ash & Co), then dissolve the charity afterwards, bypassing this condition.

(Part 10 of the Articles of Association).

Have checked re legal advice, but local lawyers informed it would take in excess of £2000 just to start an investigation. :wallbash:

Thanks

The Balding & Sleep Deprived......

Paul Harries

PS And no - my massive Lottery win of £5.20 will not cover the legal expenses! :tounge2:

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Some 12 months later the Education Staff are still waiting for their pay, petty cash, etc. Having won at a Tribunal you still have to wait until the building is sold, but it seems it is difficult to sell when you have to take on existing tenants, i.e. GFM who also control the sale. No rush then! Lets just ignore the law! Some 400 residents were involved in Education but that doesnt matter apparently! No-one there seems to know who is paying the heating bill and never have, so cuts being made to services across the County and they continue to sustain themselves despite the fact that the management were two employees of Gloucestershire County Council, the local Vicar and Curate and some Health volunteer.

Working for BTCT was the biggest mistake I have ever made, I feel ashamed to have to list them on my CV. Frail minded but manipulative individuals who put themselves first and never even consider the resident's.

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Hi

I'd never feel ashamed of working for the BTCT, unless I was on the Management Committee!

A lot of good work was done there in days gone by, and people should fell pround about that. Management may be fault for the current situation. not those who worked hard making our community a better place. (Even for a short time).

Thanks

Paul Harries

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Hi

Yes, building now been sold. Trust now changing focus from being a 'Service Provider' to a 'Grant Provider'. (Awaiting ratification from membership).

Please see other thread about what's happening to the Trust.

Thanks

Paul Harries

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Hi

Well, however they got here, this is where we're at at the moment.

Personally I've campaigned at great length to keep the Center open, but to no avail. Even our MP made promises that seem to be forgotten. I understand that the Center still has some covenant to be used for local community use. Just not sure just how much 'use' is going ahead or allowed by the new owners.

At least with the option to remain as a Grant Provider, the trust can still support the local community, with few overheads. I think this is the best we could achieve from the whole rotten saga. At least we now have something positive to commit to.

Thanks

Paul Harries

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In order to provide grants, they would have to have access to money. It was lack of funds that caused them to sell the Trust Centre. The whole thing is completely mad. The only purpose of the BTCT was to provide services for the local community. Now they have sold the building, which they were given by the city council specifically so that they would have somewhere from which to provide those services.

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Hi

Yes. Seems they were able to sell the building for more than they owed, leaving a substantial balance.

This is what I've been told:

It's this balance that needs a decision on. Do we just give it all away on a one-off bonus to local organisations? Do we invest it and use the interest, topped up by BTD profits to support the community for years to come? There may be other options. What does the Membership think?

Remember - the entire concept was built upon a Business Model that depended on BTD making a profit that was supposed to support the Trust. When they didn't, the Trust had insufficient funds to pay basic bills. Now BTD have changed their own business plan, they are now profitable, and able to support the Trust.

Thanks

Paul Harries

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