At Large: Where there is discord, may we bring ... paperwork

Storing paperwork, Margaret Thatcher, selling The Bible and taking dogs into charity shops is on our minds this week

Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher

Charities were told at a meeting last week that there's a drive to cut the paperwork in getting money from Europe. That prompted Toni Meredew, director of the training social enterprise Account3, to point out she's paying 10p a box each week to store 120 boxes of paperwork to comply with record-keeping and reporting requirements of EU grants. Some boxes date from 1994, and some must be kept until 2019. "If we lost them in a fire, we'd probably have to close down," she said.

* At the same meeting, Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo, went misty-eyed and recalled when its venue, Europe House in Smith Square, was the headquarters of the Tory party: "I was working for Labour across the road in Transport House in 1979 when Jim Callaghan went to the palace to resign, and Margaret Thatcher appeared from this very building to take government." Sitting beside him was the charities minister Nick Hurd, who leaned back luxuriously. "Happy days!" he smiled. Bubbles, of course, used to be rather more to the left than he is these days.

* The Cambrian News reports the outrage of a local citizen when the British Red Cross shop in Ceredigion handed him a box of bibles for his church. The shop wouldn't sell them, fumed Ed Brown, because the Red Cross was neutral on religion - and yet it peddled books full of obscene language, sexual activity, violence, death, etc. But it was a well-worn misunderstanding by the shop, of course. The Red Cross policy is not to sell or display religious items of any faith, but it can sell "seminal religious works" such as The Bible. Got that?

* While we're on charity shops, Julia Anderson was stunned, according to the Halifax Courier, to be told she could no longer take her dogs Gina and Tilly to the RSPCA shop in Union Street where she has volunteered for 16 years. Health and safety has decreed that the behaviour of dogs is not predictable and the shop can't risk being sued. Anderson says it's beyond satire, especially since shoppers' dogs remain welcome: "Unlike people, my dogs don't steal charity tins from the counter, or £25 jackets from the rails, or drop chewing gum, food or rubbish on the carpet." Ruff!

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