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Tonight is decision time for #Sevenoaks Town Council and @StagSevenoaks. A proposal is on the table for the Town Council to make a £220,000 grant to The Stag in its meeting tonight. Agenda, link and extensive papers here.…
I am a huge supporter of The Stag (including being a Friend) but I am not convinced this proposal is a good one. Why? Read on. 👇👇👇
1. The Stag has launched its own appeal for £250,000 in donations / crowd-funding and if the Town Council just hands it most of that amount, surely attempts to raise money will wither on the vine. Much better for the council to match funding with The Stag’s own fundraising.
2. Despite extensive papers, there is a lack of clarity on how the money would be spent and how quickly the cash burn is happening. It seems reckless for the Town Council to invest the full amount now rather than a small amount and monitor.
3. £220,000 is a huge chunk of usual precept raised by the Town Council of approx £1.2 million. If put onto next council tax, equivalent to an 18% rise in the Town Council levy (according to the papers).
4. The issue of the grant caused me to look at the governance of @StagSevenoaks. This is VERY odd and needs reform. If you are interested, please read furth detail below. If not, please dial into the meeting tonight (details in the first tweet) and express views.
A. So, The Stag is run by trustees but these are all elected Town Councillors. In short, if you get elected as a Town Councillor, you have the right to be appointed as trustee. I thought I knew about local politics but *had no idea* this was the case.
B. There are no other trustees so the charitable foundation is completely in the hands of trustees who may or may not have relevant expertise. This could be altered but Tory local councillors are adamantly opposed to appointing outside trustees with expertise.
C. Despite being made up entirely of local councillors, the Stag Trustee meetings are not public so by making a grant of £220,000, councillors would be transferring money from a transparent local government structure to being spent without the same oversight.
D. One of the Tory local Town Councillors is also The Stag CEO. This creates a conflict of issue for him but also places all Tory councillors in a difficult position when considering whether to disburse funds.
IMHO, any grant should be conditional on a reform of The Stag’s governance to make it more transparent. Independent trustees with expertise are also vital.
I am tagging in Town Councillors I have seen on Twitter to bring this thread to their attention. It won’t be comprehensive so please add others. @SevenoaksMayor @tonysclayton @ClaireShea @EyreAW @smiletree_uk
Meeting link again here if you don’t want to go to the papers in the first tweet.
In short, @StagSevenoaks needs support but the current proposal needs a lot of revision to make it fit for purpose!
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