A team of three people – two of them councillors – are now in charge of the Penarth Town Council’s new “charity” called the called “The West House Foundation” .
The trustees of the foundation are listed as:-
- Cllr Nigel Humphrey (Labour St Augustine’s Ward)
- Cllr Kathryn McCaffer (Conservative Plymouth Ward),
- Peter Knowles who is a director of Hamptons gift shop on Ludlow Lane, Penarth.
Exactly how these three trustees came to be appointed to their positions, and who put them in place is not clear. There are no council minutes referring to the matter.
The main contact for the charity is recorded by the Charity Commission as Emma Boylan – who is the Town Clerk of Penarth – and its base is Penarth Town Council, West House, Stanwell Road, Penarth, CF64 2YG.
The “West House Foundation” has been set up as a “CIO” which is the acronym for a “Charitable Incorporated Organisation”. These are a relatively new legal structure available for charities or charitable groups that wish to be incorporated as quasi businesses.
The West House Foundation can conduct business in its own name and – like a conventional private company – has “limited liability” [ in other words its directors aren’t personally liable to cover losses out of their own pockets it goes bust].
Unlike charities formed as “not-for-profit” companies however , CIOs don’t have to be registered at Companies House – they only need to be registered by the Charity Commission. This can have the effect of making their accounts and activities more difficult to delve into.
The declared aims and objectives of the West House Foundation are listed as:-
- The advancement of Envioronmental Protection and Improvement for the Public Benefit
- To advance the Arts for the public benefit through the promotion and support of local festivals and cultural activities
- To preserve for the benefit of the people of Penarth and of the nation, buildings (including any structure or erection, and any part of a building as so defined) of particular beauty or historical, architectural or constructional interest
- To promote for the benefit of the inhabitants of Penarth and the surrounding area the provision of facilities for recreation or other leisure time occupation of individuals who have need of such facilities by reason of their youth, age, infirmity or disablement, financial hardship or social and economic circumstances or for the public at large in the interests of social welfare and with the object of improving the condition of life of the said inhabitants.
- To further such charitable purposes for the public benefit as are exclusively charitable according to the laws of England and Wales as the trustees may from time to time determine.
The West House Foundation declares that it will :-
- • make grants to organisations
- • provide buildings / facilities / open space
- • provide services
- • act as an umbrella or resource body
The West House Foundation has no public mandate from the voters of Penarth. The appointment of foundation’s trustees, and the setting of its objectives, have never been discussed in any open meeting of Penarth Town Council. The setting up of the West House Foundation was not part of the Labour Party’s manifesto in the 2017 local elections.
Some local business people believe that the setting up of the West House Foundation is the council’s response to the bloody nose it received from the business community when it attempted to set up a “Business Improvement District” (BiD) in Penarth – a scheme that was rejected in a vote by the overwhelming majority of businesses in the town.