Lawyer Appointed To Oversee Management Of Wimbledon And Putney Commons

He will consider trustees' decision over controversial access rights decision

The Charities Commission has appointed lawyer Gordon Reid to oversee the management of the Wimbledon and Putney Commons alongside the existing trustees.

Mr Reid, of Barlow Robbins Solicitors, will act as Interim Manager alongside the trustees of the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators, according to the Commission.

A spokesman for the Charities Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, said: "He has been appointed to fulfil specific functions, including to consider the trustees' decision not to take action to recover a loss suffered by the charity when it granted an easement for access rights over charity lands at a significant undervalue.

"The IM will assess whether the trustees' decision was taken properly and was in the best interests of the charity. In the meantime, the trustees remain responsible for the running of the charity".

The Charities Commission opened a statutory inquiry into the charity in August 2016 because it was concerned that the organisation might have lost out on £1.5m after trustees failed to follow charity law when selling access rights to land that it owned for the development of the old Putney Hospital to a new primary school which opened October 2016.

Prue Whyte, Chairman of the Conservators (Trustees) commented that: "The appointment of an independent and neutral interim manager will provide a final and transparent resolution of this troubling issue. The Trustees will of course fully cooperate with the interim manager."

In a press release the Charity states: "The Commission notes that the Trustees have demonstrated their ability to operate the Charity; all other functions will continue under control of the Charity. The Charity looks forward with confidence to final resolution of this matter with a minimum of further delay and expense.'

A spokesperson for local pressure group Friends of Putney Common told this website: "Friends of Putney Common (FofPC) welcomes the appointment of an interim manager at WPCC. The Conservators have kept the second valuation they received back in November 2016 secret, and failed to justify their brief statement in February that they had "completed" the Commission's plan. It is now plain that the loss incurred by granting an easement at Putney Hospital is at least £1,000,000 and probably a great deal more."

June 5, 2017