A charity that runs the ice rink in Bradford, West Yorkshire, has been reprimanded by the Charity Commission for making unauthorised payments to two trustees.
Nice Time was set up in 1996 as a charitable company to preserve and maintain the Bradford Ice Arena through a trading subsidiary called Ice Time.
In a case report published today, the regulator said that it intervened in April when another charity that had received a funding application from Nice Time noticed that two of the charity’s trustees were receiving unauthorised benefits.
The accounts for the charity, which had an income of £698,530 in the year to 18 May 2014, show that it made payments of between £34,610 and £56,000 for professional services provided by the accountancy firm Long & Co in each of the past five years. They say that John Whitaker, a trustee of the charity, is principal of the firm.
The other trustee, Krystyna Rogers, was employed as managing director of the trading subsidiary.
The payments were unauthorised, the commission said, because the charity’s governing document prohibited trustee benefits and the arrangements had not been authorised by the regulator or the courts.
The commission said the charity acted quickly to address the situations once it was made aware of them by stopping the payments and seeking legal advice.
Rogers stepped down as a trustee and temporarily ceased to act as managing director of the subsidiary, pending the outcome of a review, and additional independent trustees were appointed.
The regulator said the independent trustees commissioned an accountancy firm to review all previous payments to the two other trustees, which concluded that the payments were necessary, reasonable and made in good faith.
The commission’s report says: "The two trustees of the charity had invested considerable amounts of time and money into keeping the ice rink open. The independent trustees concluded that the funds had not been misused and so decided it was not necessary to recover those funds from the trustees."
The independent trustees concluded that re-employing the managing director was in the best interests of the charity and obtained the necessary consents from the Charity Commission.
"As a result of our advice, the independent trustees made proper decisions about future payments and ensured that the necessary consents were obtained," the commission’s report says.