Watchdog called over Civic Society cash row

PUBLISHED: 09:00 21 June 2013 | UPDATED: 09:13 21 June 2013

The Civic Society restored the building to The Blakehay.

The Civic Society restored the building to The Blakehay.


THE Charity Commission has been asked to intervene in a row over Weston Civic Society's finances.

Last month the Mercury reported Martin Taylor and Chris Barker quit their respective roles as chairman and secretary after two members of the society’s executive presented an unexpected report at its annual meeting.

The report was tabled by executive members David Agassiz and Martha Perriam who said there was a need for the executive to know where the society’s money went.

The meeting was postponed until last Wednesday when the new executive, made up of 20 members, was confirmed.

Bob Smart will continue in his role of treasurer, but he did not attend the reconvened meeting, writing to members that his role in the general meeting had been completed.

In the letter he said: “I shall continue as treasurer and committee member for the time being, until I hear from the Charity Commission about how it would like to resolve the conflict over the management of our assets.”

He said there was continuing disagreement over who had access to the society’s funds, with doubt over who holds the position of ‘trustees’ - people the Charity Commission recognises under its legislation.

Mr Agassiz and Ms Perriam wrote: “We have no personal agenda as has been alleged.

“Weston needs a strong, independent and non-political body to ensure that its heritage is conserved and developed.

“We have been impressed by the vision and energy of some new and younger members and would like to see their contribution given encouragement and scope.”

The society had intended to celebrate its 40th anniversary this year, but plans had been postponed due to the uncertainty over its membership and finances.

Dr Howard Smith, a former Civic Society chairman, was chosen to chair the reconvened meeting.

He said: “I have felt over the last 10 years that the society had not been quite so busy in the town and the town had lost sight of the society, which is a great shame.

“We need a mechanism to make everything come together so the society can restore itself.”

The new executive will meet soon to decide on a new chairman and secretary.

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