Analysis: Plymouth Community Partnership has closed amid infighting

Where do affected groups go next?

Internal disputes led to the demise of an infrastructure organisation that was due to receive and distribute more than £270,000 from Capacitybuilders.

Plymouth Community Partnership shut its doors for the last time this month, replacing its website with a blank page and putting up a telephone answering message telling callers that the organisation had ceased trading.

PCP was the accountable body for money provided through the ChangeUp infrastructure programme run by Capacitybuilders. The money was to be used to improve the capacity of local infrastructure organisations.

PCP had received £35,000 of the £270,000 of funding due over the next three years by the time of its closure. Its share of the funding was reduced after concern among other members of the local ChangeUp consortium about infighting at PCP. These internal battles led to the resignation of Georgie Constable, director of PCP, in July.

George Plenderleith, chair of the Plymouth ChangeUp consortium and director of infrastructure organisation Plymouth Guild, said PCP's closure came as a shock to local organisations. "It has taken quite a lot of groups by surprise because I don't think many people realised what was going on," he said.

Plenderleith said Plymouth Guild would replace PCP as the accountable body for ChangeUp money. "The priority for us now is to make sure that we can continue to deliver what we are funded to deliver under Capacitybuilders, which we will continue to do," he said.

PCP was investigated by the Charity Commission last month after a complaint about financial controls, but the regulator decided not to take any action.

"We were satisfied the charity had acted appropriately and that there was no further role for the commission, so we informed the complainant and the charity," a commission spokesman said. The commission was trying to contact the charity's trustees to find out what would be happening to its assets, he added.

A spokeswoman for Capacitybuilders said the organisation was "taking due steps to recoup any unspent grant funding".

Kevin Curley, chief executive of Navca, the umbrella body for infrastructure groups, said he was monitoring the situation. "We are encouraged by the consortium's plans to make sure that local groups and communities will not lose out and have offered it our full support," he added.

Mary Aspinall, who was chair of PCP and a councillor at Plymouth City Council, did not respond to Third Sector's calls.

- See Editorial, page 12.

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