Inquiry leads to improved governance at community centre which trustees “did not recognise as being

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A statutory inquiry into a Gloucester community centre has addressed failings in the running of the charity. The former trustees of All Nations Community Centre (ANCC, registered charity 1111832) did not recognise the centre as a charity despite it being registered and established as such.

The Charity Commission investigated ANCC after the charity failed to file required financial information for over 5 years. The Commission was concerned that the charity’s property could be at risk, after a former trustee said that they wanted to de-register as soon as possible. The inquiry took protective action to vest the property in the Official Custodian of Charities.

The regulator held a meeting with the former trustees and found that they were not aware of their legal duties as trustees, including to file accounts.

The charity had taken over the Jamaican Sports and Social Club and Community Centre building in 2007. The charity was registered with general charitable purposes around community development, however investigators found no transactions on bank statements that appeared charitable. The centre’s main activity was the running of a bar, which the law does not permit as charitable. A charity can generate income through a trading subsidiary that runs a bar, so the inquiry provided the trustees with advice and instruction around changing the structure of the charity to bring its governance arrangements in line with the law.

Two serious crimes that occurred in 2015 and 2017 near the charity’s premises after events held there also gave rise to concern over whether the former trustees were running the charity in a way that promoted public confidence or protected its reputation as such. Neither incident was reported in line with the Commission’s guidance on reporting serious incidents, though the inquiry did find that the trustees worked closely with Gloucester constabulary to resolve issues.

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