THE Cotswold Water Park Society has been accused of being too hasty in restructuring the organisation without engaging local communities.

CWPS is attempting to restore public confidence by completely reorganising itself as a charitable trust following the arrest of its chief executive, Dennis Grant, and finance director Nick Hanson, on suspicion of theft, conspiracy to defraud, money laundering and false accounting.

The plans would see CWPS mothballed with the day-to-day running of the Water Park taken over by the CWP Trust, comprised of seven trustees including a chairman.

These trustees are currently being recruited by a nominations committee but South Cerney Parish Council, with the support of Ashton Keynes and Somerford Keynes parish councils, has written to CWPS to complain that local parishes are being sidelined in the recruitment process.

All three want more representatives from the local parishes to sit on the board of trustees.

The nominations committee currently consists of independent members Karen Mogridge, chairman of Somerford Keynes Parish Council to represent the Water Park community, and Bob Bewley, who represents CWPS staff members.

Also on the committee are existing CWPT trustees, Simon Pickering and Zoe Greenwell.

The committee is being advised by recruitment specialist Robin Rogers, who received the letter from South Cerney clerk Maurice McKee which said trustees should have the "widest possible mandate".

"It is essential that those invited or encouraged to offer themselves as new Trustees of the CWP Trust must fully represent the Water Park communities. There must be more than just one member of the Nominations Committee representing the parishes."

Muriel Watkins, clerk for Somerford Keynes parish council, said she "100 per cent supported" the pleas from South Cerney while Ian Woods, chairman of Ashton Keynes parish council, added: "The society cannot repeat its past mistake of not being open enough."

But Matthew Millett, acting joint chief executive officer of the CWPS, said the plea flew in the face of what had been agreed at a public meeting in October regarding the changes.

He said: "One of the things stressed was that new trustees should be selected on the basis of the skills and experience needed by the new entity and not to represent any particular interest or faction.

"In our view to go down the route of representation of interests, be they local community, gravel extractors, development companies or local authorities would not necessarily produce the trustees that we need to take the organisation forward."

He added that residents and other interested parties who are members of the CWPT would need to ratify the trustees at an annual meeting at a date to be set next year.