Lawyers look into Mexborough charity row
A row over the sale of a building bought with a charity grant to a private business has resurfaced after lawyers became involved.
The Coalfields Regenation Trust (CRT), which donated £750,000 towards the cost of the purchase of Mexborough Resource Centre (MRC) by Mexborough Community Partnership (MCP), confirmed their lawyers were looking into the sale of the building to Mexborough Business Centre, owned by businessman Pete Newman.
They said they would not comment further, but Mexborough’s Doncaster borough councillors say they are concerned about the arrangement and are concerned that there is still charitable rate relief attached to the property, which still provides a base for the community partnership among other functions.
Councillors Sean Gibbons, Bev Chapman and Andy Pickering issued a joint statement, stating: “Since raising our concerns around 18 months ago, CRT have fully investigated this very serious matter at senior executive level and recently concluded their investigations and the matter is now in the hands of their solicitors. This is a very serious situation and we await the outcome.”
They added they had raised concerns with Doncaster Council the MRC has not been used for the benefit of Mexborough residents and the building was still receiving charitable rate relief.
They added: “MCP are still claiming to be delivering community services and projects from MRC but we cannot see evidence of these happening for the benefit of Mexborough.”
Debbie Hogg, director of corporate resources at Doncaster Council, said officers had visited Mexborough Resource Centre and established there were a number of small independent businesses operating there. They reported this to the Valuation Office, to split rating assessments for these businesses from the rest of the Resource Centre, which would affect the charitable relief granted to Mexborough Community Partnership.
She added: “Due to the independent businesses being small, they are likely to qualify for full Business Rates relief. The businesses also appeared to be of benefit to the community being a gallery, a music academy and a beauticians.
“We are satisfied that the rest of the Resource Centre is legitimately being used for the benefit of the community and is eligible for charitable and discretionary relief from Business Rates.”
MBC and MCP have been approached for comment.