Disgraced manager of troubled Hartlepool charity axed – and former employees still owed £22k

KICKED OUT: Angie Wilcox
KICKED OUT: Angie Wilcox

THE disgraced manager of a troubled Hartlepool charity which is being investigated by the Charity Commission and fraud squad detectives has been axed.

The new committee at the under-fire Manor Residents’ Association, in the town, confirmed former councillor Angie Wilcox was asked to leave her role within the organisation.

But despite the decision, four former employees who took the charity to employment tribunals last year are still yet to be paid a penny of more than £22,000 they are owed.

Lynda Gooding, a former cleaner at the charity who wasn’t paid the national minimum wage and was ordered to receive almost £9,000 after winning an employment tribunal against Manor Residents’ Association, welcomed the decision to axe Miss Wilcox, but said she fears she will never see any of the money she is owed.

A new committee at the charity is now planning to get legal advice on the situation surrounding the money the organisation owes.

A spokeswoman told the Mail how committee members and staff are hoping to be able to rebuild the charity’s tattered reputation.

Since the first of the employment tribunals, a year ago next week, the charity and Miss Wilcox, who resigned as a ward councillor in the town in July last year, have come under fierce criticism and been subject to a number of investigations, but still refused to pay the cash.

The Charity Commission launched an inquiry into the organisation last November on the back of the four tribunals and almost a month after Cleveland Police’s Economic Crime Unit launched its own investigation into complaints of financial irregularities at Manor Residents’ Association.

The probe came on the back of an audit review, carried out by Hartlepool Borough Council, which led to officials raising a number of “issues”.

The audit review followed concerns being raised about administrative procedures surrounding payroll, payslips, end of year records and under and over payment of tax letters.

The review concluded “no assurances” could be given to the procedures in place to manage council funds.

Police officers later swooped on the charity’s base, in Kilmarnock Road, and arrested Miss Wilcox on suspicion of conspiracy to steal and false accounting, for which she is still on bail.

A spokeswoman for Manor Residents’ Association said: “Angie Wilcox was asked to leave the organisation on the back of events over the course of the last year.

“We are looking into the matter of the money the charity owes to tribunal winners.

“What we hope to do now is build up the reputation of the charity again, we want it back to how it was a few years ago.”

Mrs Gooding, who lives in Forfar Road, in the town, with husband Kenny, 59, a joiner with Housing Hartlepool, even paid £100 to execute a bailiffs’ warrant after the deadline for payment passed last year but still never received any of the cash.

She said: “To be honest I’m completely disillusioned with the whole tribunal system.

“But I just hope it’s not too late for the charity to survive.

“I would never want to see the charity close, I remember all of the fantastic work the charity did in the past, it was a lifeline for so many people.”

Mrs Gooding said she would like to speak to the charity about the possibility of setting up a payment plan so the organisation didn’t have to pay all of the money it owes at once.

Former employees Carl Williams, Sharon Henderson and Sue Harriman also won employment tribunal cases against the charity, totalling more than £13,000.

The Mail was unable to speak to Miss Wilcox despite efforts.