New committee at under-fire Hartlepool charity vow to pay back money owed

Danny Graham outside of Manor Residents Association
Danny Graham outside of Manor Residents Association

NEW committee members at an under-fire charity have revealed the perilous financial position the organisation is in – but have vowed to pay out all of the money that is owed.

Disgraced charity Manor Residents’ Association is currently in the process of assembling a new committee following the sacking of former manager Angie Wilcox earlier this month.

The committee currently has just two members, one of which is the new treasurer Danny Graham, who owns the nearby Goldmine pub.

Danny said the organisation is now hoping to “start from scratch” and rebuild an image in tatters after losing four employment tribunal cases last year.

But the 56-year-old revealed the charity is currently at least £40,000 in debt, including more than £22,000 owed out to former employees who won tribunal cases.

And Danny fears the total amount owed out may be more than double that figure as he is still working his way through the charity’s paperwork and bills.

Despite the dire financial situation, all of those owed money by the charity have been assured they will receive their cash – but are warned it may be a slow process.

“All of those who are owed money will get their money,” insisted Danny.

“But at the minute it’s a case of join the queue. It’s going to take time. To be honest, we don’t know how much we are in debt in total.”

The first of the four tribunals, won by former cleaner Lynda Gooding, was one year ago next week but Mrs Gooding is still to receive a penny of the £9,000 the charity was ordered to pay.

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

The tribunals led to an audit review, carried out by Hartlepool Borough Council, which resulted in officials raising a number of “issues”.

Cleveland Police’s Economic Crime Unit then launched its own investigation into complaints of financial irregularities at Manor Residents’ Association before the Charity Commission started its own inquiry into the organisation, which is still ongoing.

Former manager Angie Wilcox was also arrested on suspicion of false accounting, for which she is still on bail.

The charity is currently receiving no funding from external organisations and popular services which have ran out of the Kilmarnock Road-based centre in the past including playschemes, computer courses and meals-on-wheels are no longer provided. Despite those financial troubles, Danny is still hopeful the charity has a future but says the need to build up trust again within the community is great.

“We want to get people back in, we want to see new faces,” he said.

“We have to win the trust of the community back and that’s going to be a long climb. We want this centre to be thriving again, for it to be a real hub of the community. At the same time, we know we have a lot of money to pay off and we will do that little by little.”

Danny said the full new committee will be formed over the coming weeks.

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