Sporting Land Development

1141811 – SURREY CANAL SPORTS FOUNDATION LIMITED

Still hitting the headlines, this charity is involved with  land around The Den Millwall FC’s football ground, offshore company Renewal and the new multi-million pound Bermondsey development. The media continue to question loans and funding arrangements and  relationships with Sports England and Lewisham council. To add to the problems a member of the public contacted the Charity Commission in January 2017 with some specific concerns including that:
  • the charity was a vehicle for money laundering and/or tax avoidance
  • there were conflicts of interest in the charity’s decision making, and links between the charity, a developer and local officials
  • the charity’s income was low, while its expenditure was high
  • that the charity had failed to achieve its stated aims

After  investigating the issues raised that were within their regulatory remit  the commission issued a report that included a conclusion ‘We considered that the charity had addressed our regulatory concerns and demonstrated that it was acting independently, we had no ongoing concerns about the funding of the charity. We closed our case in March 2017.’ The full report can be read here.

The Commission was able to provide public assurance that  the charity is operating in compliance with charity law. They did not examine the merits of the development scheme and the compulsory purchase orders that fall outside their regulatory remit.

‘We have ensured the trustees are clear that they need to continue to ensure that the charity is independent and that any decisions are made in the best interests of the charity. Charities can attract considerable public scrutiny where they are involved with decisions that are unpopular or controversial.

The public expect that charities and trustees should be as open and transparent as possible regarding the decisions they make. It is especially important where there may be an impression that individuals have conflicts of loyalty that trustees always act in the best interests of their charity. The key to making the right decisions (and being able to defend them) as a trustee is knowing your role and responsibilities.’

Reinforcing guidance for trustees

  • ensure your charity is carrying out its purposes for the public benefit
  • comply with your charity’s governing document and the law
  • act in your charity’s best interests
  • manage your charity’s resources responsibly
  • act with reasonable care and skill
  • ensure your charity is accountable

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