Love or loathe it, the Arch in Folkestone at the town end of the Leas has caused controversy from the moment it was born.
For those of you who do not remember the arch received close to £420,000 in funding mostly from the public purse.
£200,000 from the then Shepway District Council
£150,000 from Kent County Council
£17,550 from Folkestone Town Council
As you can see from the screen shot the accounts are overdue and have been for 15 days. The Charity’s Trustees according to the Charity Commission website are:
MR PAUL EMDEN
ANN ELIZABETH BERRY
GEOFFREY ROBERT TOLSON
DAMIAN COLLINS MP
That to our mind is one very large oversight by the board of trustees for failing to comply with Charity law. Especially when one considers Damian Collins MP is the Chairman and Cllr Ann Berry, both a Town and District Cllr are elected officials and failing to comply with the letter and the spirit of the law as laid out in the Charity Act 2011
Now according to the minutes of the Full Council Meeting of Folkestone Town Council held on the 10 January 2019 – Ann Berry recused herself, The Town Clerk reported that a request had been received from Damian Collins MP for the Town Council to take ownership of the Step Short Arch. Costs of maintaining the Arch have been estimated at £1500 per year for cleaning and insurance. The minutes go onto say, Councillors felt it should not be a financial burden on the residents of Folkestone.
Representatives from Step Short…were not able to give any indication on whether there would be any funding left once they had ceased or if they were able to transfer charity money to the Town Council, but they would be speaking with their Accountant with regards to this.
Now that to us is absolutely amazing, because as we said it is both a Charity and a Company registered on Companies house and the latest accounts lodged at Companies House on the 9th Jan 2019, a day before the meeting made it clear Step Short Folkestone Ltd had on the 31st March 2018 the sum of £474,532
Now of course, since the Accounts are for March 2018 the Charity and the company may well have spent some of this money, but not much we would suspect, the question is will they be transferring the £474,000 to the Town Council too?
The Town Council could set up a trust and earn an income from the money invested for the upkeep of the Arch, so avoiding any expense to the people of Folkestone.
So people of Folkestone do you want the arch to taken over by Folkestone Town Council, as long as the £474,000 is transferred too? Or should Step Short continue to run the charity. Unfortunately the choice is not yours that will by our Town Cllrs choice in March 2019.
However, that said you can contact all 20 of them to let them know what your opinion is. But of course, there is no guarantee, that the Conservative led Town Council will listen to you or take your sentiments onboard, you can but try.
The Shepwayvox Team
Journalism for the People NOT the Powerful