Friday, 29 June 2012

Is OSCR working?

The Development Trusts Association explains that Development Trusts are supposed to be community organisations which are owned and managed by the local community, aim to achieve the sustainable regeneration of a community or address a range of economic, social, environmental and cultural issues within a community, are independent but seek to work in partnership with other private, public and third sector organisations and aim to reduce dependency on grant support by generating income through enterprise and the ownership of assets.

Crucially, it also tells us that all trading surpluses are principally reinvested in the organisation or the community.

I will be writing to OSCR, the Scottish Charities Commission, to ask what monitoring they have in place watching these Trusts.

A Wind Farm Developer is reputedly behind the setting up of what has been styled a Community Development Trust, including a handful of community activists, at least one Community Councillor, and a representative of a land owner, to dispense a mere 10%, not all of trading profits, of a proposed wind energy development in North East Fife. This group has registered with Companies House but it is not at all clear who selected these people to "own and manage" the Trust on behalf of the community and I have yet to hear of any proper community wide call for them to be established as the whole community's represenatives. I hope I am wrong, but it seems that these people are more or less self-selecting, most with vested interest, and that they may be out of step with the real community. There ought to be a proper process to determine any such mandate. How can they use the term "community" without such a process?

I believe it is up to the Charities Commission to know and to explain what is going on, and to say if it is all being done properly. The big question is this: Who has the right to claim they are a community trust, and by what criteria? Or are trusts now a free for all area, which any vested interest group or wind developer can establish?

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