Bid to remove Birmingham City Council as sole trustee of Elford Estate

Local authority accused of mismanagement

A community group in Birmingham is campaigning to remove the local council from its position as the sole trustee of a local charitable estate because it says the council has mismanaged the estate's assets.

The group was formed after the council decided recently that it will sell a farm on the Elford Estate and evict the tenants, who have been hoping to turn the land into a rural education facility.

In the two weeks since it was formed, the campaign group has attracted more than 100 members and several promises of funding from the local community.

Gareth Griffiths, a spokesman for the group, claims the council has neglected the Elford Estate for decades. He said: "This was a 600-acre estate with a stately home and gardens designed by Capability Brown. In 1962, the house was demolished because of neglect, and the rest of the estate has been run into the ground."

Griffiths said the council sold another part of the estate for £227,000 in the 1980s and used the money for non-charitable purposes. It later agreed to repay the money to the trust, but was given 60 years to do so by the Charity Commission.

"This is not the only time this has happened," said Griffiths. "The head of the council's trusts and charities sub-committee has admitted that the council may owe local charities up to £5m. The council has also failed to submit accounts for the charity for five years."

A spokesman for Birmingham City Council said the Charity Commission had given the trust the green light to sell the land.

"Until any sale takes place we cannot say how the sum that is ultimately generated will be used for the benefit of the charity," he said.

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