Putney Hospital Dominates WPCC Public Meeting

Board admit issues and need to follow the Charity Commission's formal action plan

There was standing room only (and only just) at the back of the London Scottish Golf Club last night (2nd December) as levy payers and staff packed the Wimbledon & Putney Common Conservators Public Meeting.

The Chair, Chief Executive & board introduced themselves & were thanked for their work on the board. Prue Whyte the chair then introduced the current status of the Putney Hospital issue regarding access and copies of the letter from the Charity Commission and the Board subsequent resolutions were distributed amongst the audience. She also drew attention to the costly replacement of the sail that sheared off the Windmill in August and plans to receiving heritage funding to replace this and halt water ingress into the main building.

Simon Lee (Chief Exec) then summarised the operational activities and achievements of the year, setting out the goals of 2016. Skylarks have returned to the Commons for the first time since 2007.

The meeting was then opened to the public, offering the audience a maximum of three questions per individual. Questions raised included how the Board could turn the financial deficit around into a healthy surplus, the possibility of recruiting a fundraiser to improve income for the area, the possibility of introducing controls on dogs following an increase in 'attacks' on horses, introducing cycling to the Commons, and if possible, the hiring of a pro-bono lawyer to save levy money.

Regarding the Putney Hospital issue, the audience's questions and responses became more heated. Recently resigned trustee Nicholas Evans put forward three questions covering the lack of resignations by incumbent trustees, the QSR report and the lack of valuations for the land sold. One Putney resident questioned the use of web site forums being 'abused' to release information to the public, when trustees have instructions not to communicate through media. Mr Evans was asked why he has put the Charity / levy payers to extra cost of resigning forcing an extra costly election. The Board were criticised for a lack of transparency.

The Chair concluded that the board had failed in the past to be open & transparent and that they are endeavouring to do this. Trustee Keith Luck admitted that historic issues with communication both internal and external had in part resulted in some of the problems including the commissioning of Montagu Evans QSR. There was a general feeling from all sides that the situation needs clearing, allowing the charity to focus on its operations, however Shirley Gillbe pointed out that the Charity Commission had set out a six step action plan which they must follow.

The meeting rounded up after two hours with both the Chair and the Chief Exec thanking the staff for their hard work.

December 4, 2015