Wheelchair charity condemned

CHARITY watchdogs have criticised the past administration of an organisation set up to train wheelchair users, branding financial records as "insufficient".

CHARITY watchdogs have criticised the past administration of an organisation set up to train wheelchair users, branding financial records as "insufficient".

A report carried out by the Charity Commission described the Maclean Trust's management controls as "weak" and added that it had failed to accurately record its affairs.

An investigation into the charity was launched in September 2000 after the trust's chairman, John Forbes-Whitehead, raised concerns about a £15,000 loan that had allegedly been taken out by the founder, Sue Maclean, to pay off its debts.

The chairman claimed the loan had been taken out without the approval of the trustees, and was concerned the trust might not be able to pay it back.

In its report, the Charity Commission said records indicated there had been discussion between trustees on whether a loan was needed, however it concluded that it was not approved at a "properly constituted" meeting.

"A search through the trust's records by Commission officers did not uncover an agreement between Mrs Maclean and the trust in respect of the alleged loan," the report stated.

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"Commission staff concluded that the trustees had not maintained accurate and sufficient records in relation to the trust's affairs.

"The Commission found that the trust's internal financial and management controls were weak and not set out in writing."

The Maclean Trust raised £68,000 to open the Maclean Centre for Wheelchair Training in Ipswich, which was opened in Sandy Hill Lane in the town in 1995.

However, the organisation was forced to close in November following a decision by its founder to take court action to reclaim the £15,000 loan she put into the business.

The charity's premises were also badly damaged as a result of a suspected arson attack.

Mrs Maclean, of Farrow Close, Leiston, stood down as a trustee of the organisation two years ago.

She was unable to comment on the findings of the report.

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