Midlands charity 'an insular men's club'

Melton Mowbray Town Estate faces Charity Commission probe

The Charity Commission is investigating a 460-year old charity in Melton Mowbray amid allegations that it prevented the town's former mayor from standing for re-election as a trustee.

The Melton Mowbray Town Estate runs much of the Leicestershire town's parks and leisure facilities. Its 12 trustees, known as feofees, are elected every year by the townspeople, who are the charity's members.

Pat Cumbers, a borough councillor and a former mayor and volunteer bureau chair, was elected in 2007. But she told Third Sector that she and another female trustee were badly treated by the rest of the male-dominated board, which she said resembled an insular men's club or family.

She also complained to the Charity Commission about a range of other alleged governance failings, some of which were aired in a recent BBC TV documentary.

Cumbers claimed she had been unconstitutionally suspended in 2008 and then prevented from standing for re-election at this year's elections.

A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said: "We have made it clear to the charity that, under the current governing document, the trustees cannot prevent people standing for election from the floor.

"If an individual was prevented from standing as a trustee from the floor of the recent town meeting, then this is contrary to our advice. We are currently looking at this issue and a number of other governance matters to consider what other steps, if any, we may take."

A spokesman for the Melton Mowbray Town Estate said there was no one available to respond to the allegations.

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