Mining charity is 'asset-stripping' communities for its own gain, union claims

The National Union of Mineworkers says it is in constant battle with the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation

(Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)

The miners support charity the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation has been accused of asset stripping former mining communities for its own benefit.

A dispute in Maltby, South Yorkshire, has become the latest in what the National Union of Mineworkers described as a constant battle between the charity, local community groups and the union.

The row began in 2018 when the Maltby miners working men’s club, known as Maltby’s Stute, was closed because it had become unprofitable.

At the time the trustees of Maltby Miners’ Colliery Institute and Recreation Ground Scheme, which ran the Stute, said this was to help protect nearby recreation facilities that were part of the leasehold.

The Maltby Miners Welfare and Recreation Protection Group was set up by concerned residents who wanted the club reopened.

The group had been working on a plan to reopen the club, and CISWO pledged to work with the community when it repossessed the building in June this year, according to the group. 

But the club appeared for sale on the Rightmove website featuring photos taken before the end of August deadline for the group’s deadline to submit alternative proposals, the group said. 

The group claims CISWO did not follow correct procedure under section 121 of the Charities Act 2011, prior to entering into a binding obligation for the disposal of the Stute. 

The charity’s trustees must give public notice of the proposed disposal for at least a month; invite representations; and take those representations into consideration before proceeding.

But CISWO said it had been trying to work with the trustees over an extended period but they had failed on numerous occasions to engage with them or to fulfil their obligations under the lease agreement.

Chris Kitchen, general secretary at the NUM, said the trustees of the charity responsible for managing the club and recreational facilities had asked CISWO if it would accept a part surrender of the lease of the land, which could then be released to the protection group to take over the running of the facilities.

Or if the land was put up for sale could the money go directly into supporting the leisure and recreational facilities. The club was sold last week for £246,000.

Kitchen said: “There seems to be a constant battle between the NUM nationally, local community groups and CISWO about the interpretation of the role of the charity. 

“Maltby is the latest in what is now a long list of welfare facilities that have been lost in former mining communities.” 

“The concern is that CISWO is asset stripping our former mining communities for its own benefit.”

CISWO said it had no choice but to reposses the building because it had not been adequately taken care of, and it was not considered viable to bring that building back to a state where it could be used for charitable activities.

A spokesman said: “Since the repossession, CISWO has invested significant funding and resource to bring the recreational facilities to the standard needed to ensure they can continue to be used by the various sports groups of Maltby. We are continuing to invest in the ongoing development of that site."

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