The annual general meeting of the Cotswold Water Park Trust heard of the charity's difficulties following the fraud by former boss Dennis Grant
SPARKS flew at the annual general meeting of Cotswold Water Park Trust (CWPT) with accusations that the body was still operating in the fashion that enabled its former chief executive to steal hundreds of thousands of pounds.
At a packed meeting at the CWPT’s Gateway Centre in South Cerney, Cllr Esmond Jenkins (Lib Dem, Water Park) spoke against the number of agreements set up by Dennis Grant, who was jailed for the £660,000 fraud in July 2011.
Cllr Jenkins said he was extremely concerned the current board of the Trust was still operating under arrangements and agreements set up by Grant.
“No one should be conned into thinking these problems stopped with Dennis Grant,” he said.
“The current board of trustees have not torn up agreements they know were illicit and, counter to the aim of the society, they have actually endorsed them – that is a manifest failure of governance.”
Replying, CWPT managing director Sir David John said the Trust faced a number of extremely difficult challenges.
“We inherited a complete mess,” he said.
“No one on this board has any motivation to continue these corrupt practices – our job is to get the best possible outcome for this Trust.”
He added the Trust had not revoked agreements made by Grant in relation to Keynes Country Park and quarrying in Shorncote as to do so would prove extremely costly to the charity, which is currently in a very difficult financial position.
Along with a number of other Water Park residents, Cllr Jenkins also described the arrangements by which the board of trustees had been appointed rather than directly elected as “cock and bull arrangements”.
“The trust’s activity is a de facto arm of the local authorities but without any of the democratic checks and balances,” he said. “That’s how Dennis Grant operated and that how you still operate.
“The real democracy would be for the members to select the trustees.”
Responding, Sir David said, as the Trust is a registered charity, it follows the same process as would be followed in a private company.
He added the Trust was working towards improving relations with groups and residents across the Water Park by setting up regular meetings with parish councils and the newly set up Parish Panel and anyone with any concerns about issues involving the CWPT should contact him directly on 01793 752 413.