Author Topic: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??  (Read 95941 times)

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Offline Muggins

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #540 on: May 01, 2015, 04:15:08 PM »
>  charity's accounts.
 :2funny:

Anyone seen these??
Are they published? on web?

I remember a few AGMs in '00s where people asked for these and the name of an accountant.
Never got a name and there were no accounts or proper records of memberships.
Where are the records of such AGMs, and number of attendees.
How many members attended the last one? 
When was  the last AGM for the NMIPT? When is the next one?

Just ask them for numbers of their members?   They did claim 3000+  but can't provide any proper numbers.
Someone should check how much she was paid and if she was a Trustee at the time?
If so it should be reported.



Karsten, no charity can keep itself secret, you only have to go to the Charity Commission web page, enter the name or charity number and the accounts for the last five years are there before you.  I suggest you use the charity number which you will find on their web page as I always seem to have a problem with the search engine using names. 

I wouldn't get your knickers in a  twist about her being a trustee or not, very often people forget to change the details until it's time to do the annual return and the Trusts are up to date to the last time they should be in.  As I said they can nominate anyone of the
 trustees to fill a role within the org without paying them. Sometimes a business will second a person to fill a role - it's like donating money.

No one (charity or otherwise) can get a grant out of anywhere, without providing evidence of audited accounts.  No doubt someone somewhere in org has a list of members which they are required to keep.  If a trustee is paid, it's not likely you will see the documents between the charity commission and the org, because staff/employment documents are usually confidential for all the same reasons everyone else's is.

As to Swindoncentrics blog:  The Trust, some years ago extended (legally) it's objects to include a concern for the buildings in the area, those objects are also on the CC web page. Having done this for another org. myself I can assure readers that it's not an easy thing to do and the CC is fastidious in wording etc.  I also think it's a little out of date, seeing as the Trust have already taken over the Bakers and well on the way to taking over the little museum.

I would be very surprised if an AGM was not held although there is usually a little leeway in governing documents (constitutions and/or Memorandums etc.) to allow groups to over run the year - usually 15 months.

Karsten, if you are a member you should get hold of the Memorandum and Articles and see what your right are to see accounts. I wish the CC would have them up on its page but for some reason they don't. That's not the Trusts fault it's the same for everybody. Usually it is a written request to the treasurer. They have always had a treasurer and they must have them audited by an independent person. Usually chosen at the previous AGM.  If they raise over a certain amount, they might have to have a proper chartered accountant sign them off or if below that figure, then just an independent person. The latter being as rare as hens teeth, because you do need someone who can do the figure work - I know this from bitter experience I have an annual 'hunt the independent person' for the three sets of accounts I handle.  And Terry  has obliged me a couple of times (Thanks to him).   

There is absolutely no way they can get round this and no way would they get funding without it.

Members of the Trust should, of course, be interested in the objects of the Trust and not just on it to make trouble, they should collectively further the interests of the trust and of they don't like the management should, vote it off or join it.  The org. is only as good as its members, it is they who attend the meetings, vote for the trustees etc. Of course if they vote off trustees etc. they should be prepared to stand themselves and do a better job. 
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Karsten

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #541 on: May 02, 2015, 03:04:49 AM »
Well Hannah is still one of 4 trustees (her mum is too) and if she was paid then it SHOULD be in the Trusts financial records.
except..
There are no financial accounts filed and there are none on the site and there is no accountant listed either?
They have only ever filed returns since 98,  no accounts and only listed income of 22.5k in 2014.
All their income is from grants.
That the Trust had no accountant was raised at many AGMs in early 00's by members.   I was one, even helped out in 98 when Mike Welch was in charge.
Been told that I am not a member now even though in the early days the £1 gave you life membership.

As far as I can check there are no accounts nor any details of their spending listed.
Which they should have done if a Trustee was being paid.


If you are in charge of a charity you might want to look deeper into NMIPT. 
Why do you think none of the other original trustees are still there?
Why has there not been a change in the trustees since 2000.
No accountant or accounts filed?

No proper fund raising and lot of activity for every thing else but the MI in my opinion.


Offline Muggins

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #542 on: May 02, 2015, 09:24:08 AM »
Karsten. 
The trust HAS filed their accounts or at least done their annual return to the Charity Commission.  The reason you can only see about 5 years back is because that's all the Charity Commission puts up on the site, i.e. when this years goes in, the first years drops off. 

There is no obligation or law which states they must publish their accounts on their own web site and very few charities do, in fact I know of no particular one that does. the obligation is to report them at AGM and if it says so in the Mem. and Art. they are obliged to send you a copy of you ask.  Of course sometimes it appears that accounts are a year out of date - don't know how many times I've had to explain this at AGMS.

As you and others have said, and I suspect, that the Trust doesn't raise much 'cash' by old fashioned methods i.e. tin rattling/jumble sales etc. so that means they have to apply to grant making trusts for any income.  To apply - and I do know what I'm talking about on this subject, they have to find a grant making trust who's 'giving' plan fits what they want to ask for.
i.e. if they want core costs i.e. to cover stationery, to pay the phone bill, stamps, heating lighting, insurance.  Well good luck with that one there is not many about that will cover that.

Mainly grants these days are for 'Projects'  some grant makers will give towards this but maybe in different categories.  Maybe Health (with varying aspects), maybe Heritage, maybe environmental etc.

Groups/orgs then apply and fill in a lengthy form, send it off with proof that they are functioning body - usually with Memorandum and articles, Annual reports and financial reports.
None of this is easy and it's a good group that has someone with the skills to do it, making what you want to get out of it fit the purpose of the grant.  You can also expect a phone interview from and independent adjudicator and if the grant is large - a visit! Some of the larger ones will allow staff costs. Of course to do that the group also has to have the set up to pay the person - and pay their taxes NHI etc. and must employ that person via Equal Opportunities process and know about employment process.  I know a couple of groups now, one whose worker is 'employed' by another group with the set up so to do and another group whose worker is self employed.  All perfectly legitimate. One thing about grants etc. usually you have to maintain some sort of relationship with the grant making bodies, so they know who you are anyway.

As I said most of the grant funding these days is time limited and the time allowed to spend is shrinking.  The grant will probably cover one year. At the end of that year, the group will be normally be asked  to provide the 'giver' with a written report of the activity achieved and the financial report for the grant given. 

There are a few potty people still giving the odd £500 and not bothering where it goes once it's given, but they are few and far between.

AS I said I would not get too wound up about Hannah's name still being on the Trustee list at CC, if she is a paid worker, it shouldn't be there, but its just an oversight that will no doubt be corrected when whoever in the org puts up the Annual return.  If her named position is NOT paid then she is still a trustee. I explained before that if she is paid and still a trustee and her mum is still on the board, then there may well be a special permission from the CC for her to do that.  All perfectly legitimate. I explained in my last posting how Hannah's 'job' might be working - all legitimate.

As to the few trustees on the Board, who's fault is that?    As long as it does not go below three, then its legitimate too.  Today trying to get people to sit around a table, get properly involved in what it means to be a charitable trustee is a shrinking world.  I suggest you look at a few more charities on the CC and see how many of them have the full ten or twelve trustees, there won't be many.  For all we know, those that have more, probably all but a few are 'sleeping' in between AGM's.  I would rather have three fully involved and knowing what they are doing trustees, than nine hanger on-ers putting all their trust in the three.

Of course there are people who bounce in and out of charity/groups and orgs, make a right pain the neck of themselves, fail to gain focus about the object in hand and cause no end of work for those who are striving to fulfil their obligations to the object and funders of the org. 

There are some who are enthusiastically willing to help, but can't get their head around the restrictions and no matter how much you explain to them that "no you can't do that because...." still fire off like loose cannon doing more harm than good.  Some stubbornly refuse to get on board with any training offered.  I know that the trustees of the Trust at present have all had that training, because that is where I've met them - at the training sessions/conferences/workshops/seminars etc.

Are you saying you were an accountant Karsten or a trustee?  Have you formally complained to anyone, if so how did you get on.? 

I can assure you that if they are getting leases and grants, their accounts have been well and truly checked.  Or are you saying there is some corruption going on right through them and the grant making trusts?

By the way - if you are a  registered charity and you don't file your accounts on time - you get several emails reminded you before and after the due date. After so long they knock on the door.  I repeat, the Trust HAS filed their accounts.   




Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline swindoncentric

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #543 on: October 28, 2015, 11:47:08 AM »
More rumblings about the Mechanics'.

SBC = No SBC money to restore, buy or maintain it.

Mechanics' Trust = Want it owned and operated by the community.

Someone's going to have to blink first, I know where the smart money's going

http://swindoncentric.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/the-grade-ii-elephant-in-room.html

Offline I Could Do That

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #544 on: October 28, 2015, 12:27:18 PM »
Quote
Grade II* Elephant in the Room
Swindon Borough Council is making more positive noises about the Mechanics' Institute than for a while.

They have once again made it very clear that there is no SBC money to buy it, restore it, or run it.

However the Mechanics' Trust still keeps banging the drum for it being a community-owned and community-operated use.

That's okay then, the thousands of members of the Trust and the vast coffers they've swelled at the Trust, will support their plans.

So how many members and how much money does the always very-vocal Mechanics' Trust has backing them up?

As usual with these situations, if one "side" is wrong and the other "side" is also wrong then the solution can be found in the middle ground.

The trust do not need to provide income to preserve Swindon's heritage.
The trust do not need to own the building

On the other hand the building does not need to be destroyed or flogged off to an individual that has no interest in Swindon's history, heritage or culture.

Various parties could just get together, discuss all aspects, find common ground.
Multiple use = multiple incomes.
The Outlet Centre and the nearby university faculty are both expanding and this building is in the centre of it all.

Proud to be gone

Offline the gorgon

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #545 on: October 28, 2015, 12:33:27 PM »
SBC selling it to a developer?

The frankly useless MI trust have failed (as far as I can tell) spectacularly to raise any serious funds to do anything with the building.  I wouldn't be at all surprised if they couldn't even afford to insure the building.

It's getting toward 30 years since the BR works shut down, if they'd been able to raise (and save) donations properly they could be sitting on quarter of a million by now.  That wouldn't fix the building but they could secure it properly, hopefully do any urgent repairs and hire some consultants who know how to draw up a business plan that will actually work and then get lottery funding. 

A proper decent business plan is key because a lot of money will be needed to sort the MI out and the various lottery organisations have had their fingers burnt by failures (i.e. money down the drain) that they are a lot more careful and would eat little boys like the MI trust for breakfast (and still be hungry because of their lack of substance).  The Commonwealth museum in Bristol is a nice local example, I think they had nearly £10m in lottery funds and closed down after about 5 years.  They aren't going to make those sorts of mistakes again.

Offline Karsten

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #546 on: October 28, 2015, 10:30:17 PM »
SBC don't own the building, the crown's solicitors do and were instructed to look into selling it about 1.5 yrs ago.

They do how ever have the power to sell it due to having the 250k charge on it.
So in reality they do own it, and hence have the responibilty to keep it in shape.

EH could technically issue SBC with a Urgent Repairs Notice like SBC did to forefront estates. :fence:

There is a way to get the mechanics owned by a group interested in it.

10 people can petition the goverment to force a council to sell any of its buildings that are not in use.  councils then need to provide concrete plans for a building or put it up for sale at its official value.

So £1 then or maybe bit more if SBC pay for a new valuation. Last was in 2000 and for £1 by district surveyor

Most people don't care about it tho so nothing will happen....  :weed:

Offline Spunkymonkey

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #547 on: October 28, 2015, 11:08:57 PM »
SBC don't own the building, the crown's solicitors do and were instructed to look into selling it about 1.5 yrs ago.

They do how ever have the power to sell it due to having the 250k charge on it.

But wouldn't they have a public duty to sell it for more than £250,000 to get their money back?

Quote
So in reality they do own it, and hence have the responibilty to keep it in shape.

Is this correct? It certainly sounds very unfair. Are you suggesting that if a building owner goes bankrupt, the main creditor not only loses his money, but is potentially liable for maintaining the building? Do SBC own the MI in reality? I would have thought not, but if they do and are now liable for it, it looks like they have acted negligently by getting involved and exposing to the tax payer to a financial risk.

Quote
EH could technically issue SBC with a Urgent Repairs Notice like SBC did to forefront estates.

Equally, if the Mechanics Trust managed to buy it for £1, couldn't EH issue the trust with an Urgent Repairs Notice? Would that bankrupt the trust?

Quote
There is a way to get the mechanics owned by a group interested in it.

10 people can petition the goverment to force a council to sell any of its buildings that are not in use.  councils then need to provide concrete plans for a building or put it up for sale at its official value.

So £1 then or maybe bit more if SBC pay for a new valuation. Last was in 2000 and for £1 by district surveyor

If SBC do own the building, wouldn't they have a responsibility to sell to the highest bidder? Could it end up in the hands of another developer?

Alternatively, the council might be able to consider the best bid based on quality rather than price alone. In this case, could the MT win this bid given the threat of an Urgent Repair Notice? Wouldn't the council have a duty to ensure that any future owner had the means and immediate funding to preserve the building?

I don't wish to be negative, but this saga doesn't look any closer to a solution.  :surrender:

Offline Phil Chitty

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #548 on: October 30, 2015, 09:38:37 AM »
SBC don't own the building, the crown's solicitors do and were instructed to look into selling it about 1.5 yrs ago.

They do how ever have the power to sell it due to having the 250k charge on it.
So in reality they do own it, and hence have the responibilty to keep it in shape.



That's at best questionable. The BV division can at anytime disclaim the land and have title extinguished.

As to buying it for £1  - that's a bit misleading. BVD will want at least £1,000 plus valuer's fee plus costs.

The danger is that if any further urgent work is required for safety purposes, this cost will fall on SBC, with no recourse to anyone as BVD will not accept any liabilities.

As soon as anyone takes ownership they will become liable for any potential safety works. For this reason the NMIPT cannot sensibly seek to gain ownership, at least not until funding for it's repair is in place.

Offline Karsten

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #549 on: June 08, 2017, 01:28:02 AM »
wow last post 2015?

So does anyone want to try this?

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/right-to-contest
You can use Right to Contest to challenge government to sell land or property if you believe it’s not needed and
could be put to better economic use.
Land owned by a local authority or certain other public bodies the site is empty or under-used there are no plans
to bring it back into use

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/269720/131216_Right_to_Contest_application_form_final.odt

from a letter I got back in 2014.. (see attachment)
"As an alternative for seeking a disposal from The Crown Estate you may wish to consider contacting the Council in order to investigate whether they would be prepared to sell the Property under their power of sale.  The reason for this is that a purchase from the Council under a power of sale will be free from all charges and encumbrances registered after the date of their charges which is something that The Crown Estate would be unable to do. "

The charge on plot 2 is really invalid as there were no roof repairs on that plot and ScS just ended up setting it on fire. :spin:
There are grounds to make an application of discharge of the existing 240k charge on grounds that no real roof repairs were done since EH called ScS roof repairs of plot 1 vandalism. also TSB's 2 500k charges were discharged by TSB to enable a better chance for the successful regeneration of the building.

It's clear to me that SBC have no plans since I quieried it in 2015.. the imminent plans they couldn't discuss never came to light. :bash:

so would people be interested in a creating community limited company and making a bid for it and issue a right to contest on SBC as they do have power of sale?

I'd do it for plot 2 and leave SBC with the scaffolding bill and plot 1 with the ScS repaired roof.
Turn the light back on.
Maybe ask Luke Skywalker to show his Star Wars museum in it to raise funds.. Get the Art college to display students art in part of it..
Offer them a permanent exhibition..  Maybe students can have re-glazing windows as projects 
At least something is better than 20 yrs of no fund raising and no action.
if it fails limited company loses its deposit.. couple of pounds and building goes back to Crown a second time to deselect and sell off.
if it works, Swindon slowly gets a 'Mini me' Camden Market project?

If there is any success we could ask
- SBC to give free of charge the remaining plot 1 including the cost of keeping scaffolding holding the roof up.

Camden Market slowly but surely developed into one of London top tourists attractions.
The Mech is dead centre between Brunel centre, Outlet village via tunnel, station, Railway village, 'Barracks etc...

As for moving the art Museum I think that is different unrelated matter.. 
Art Exhibition centre though? - I did talk to Art College in 2000 and they did say they would be interested in a permanent exhibition space. 
So did 'Luke' for his SW museum a few back.


Offline Terry Reynolds

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #550 on: June 08, 2017, 09:21:21 AM »
Karsten, thanks for your post, I take on board what you have said and as someone who has lived here apart from army service, all my life, as a 4 year old, my family lived in 2a Emlyn Square and used to go to many shows in the theatre. I live in hope that this building can be saved. Its history and importance will never be replaced, and if it goes will never be replaced.  the days are marching on, how much longer will be it, before someone comes up and says it is now beyond repair and is to be knocked down, all through lack of effort.
Please keep on with your efforts and keep us all informed of any progress.