No compliance issues at Preston Down Trust, says regulator's case report

The Plymouth Brethren charity was registered in 2014 after a five-year wrangle, and the Charity Commission now says it is complying with its governing document

Preston Down Trust hall
Preston Down Trust hall

The Preston Down Trust, a charity that is part of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, is complying with its governing document and promises made to the Charity Commission, says a new case report from the commission.

The trust was registered in 2014 after a five-year dispute and agreed to amend its trust documents by entering into a deed of variation, which sets out the church’s core religious doctrines and practices in a way that is binding on trustees. The commission agreed to review after 12 months the charity’s compliance with the deed of variation.

The case report says that there is no evidence of any significant compliance issues and that trustees are taking steps to ensure it is a well-run charity. It says that people who have previously raised issues about the Plymouth Brethren told the commission they had no specific complaints about the Preston Down Trust.

But there are some recommendations in the report aimed at improving the trust’s openness and transparency, including steps to make its members aware of the requirements of its doctrines and practices, and greater publicity for all trust meetings that are accessible to non-members.

The commission has also provided guidance and an action plan to tackle some governance and financial issues. It wants the trust to ensure there are a number of core policies and procedures in place for the charity’s proper governance and administration.

Ninety-six Plymouth Brethren gospel halls have registered as charities, according to the commission, some of which are also being monitored by the regulator.

Michelle Russell, director of investigations, monitoring and enforcement at the commission, said: "It is vital from day one that trustees of charities recognise the importance of complying with charity law. Trustees must ensure that their charity operates for the public benefit, not just at registration stage but going forward, and that they follow charity law at all times.

"Given the public interest in the registration of this charity, it was important that the commission took this monitoring action and, in doing so, provided public assurance that the charity is complying with the assurances it gave at registration."

No-one from the Preston Down Trust was available for comment before the article went to press.

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