Belford Development Trust close to collapse after row

AT RUST set up to help the development of a Northumberland village is on the brink of extinction amid a row with a parish council.

The village of Belford in Northumberland

A TRUST set up to help the development of a Northumberland village is on the brink of extinction amid a row with a parish council.

Belford Development Trust was on the verge of being dissolved at a meeting last week due to it not having enough members.

The trust’s chairman has claimed that the shortage of members was because of an alleged campaign against the trust conducted by Belford Parish Council, and has since resigned in anger because of the alleged treatment.

These suggestions have however been denied by the parish council, which insists it has only been asking legitimate questions.

At last week’s meeting it was decided not to scrap the trust at present to give it a chance to recruit new members.

However, should that not happen, the body could be wound up in the coming weeks.

The trust and parish council have been at loggerheads in recent months over questions the trust has asked the council about the whereabouts of funds given to the trust in relation to a village carnival.

Trust chairman Ros Simpson claimed the council was conducting a “campaign” against her organisation.

She alleged the trust’s lack of members, with it having only four despite requiring a minimum of seven, was because people in the village did not want to join, having seen the way members are treated by the parish council.

However, the parish council has denied the suggestions, insisting it had been raising questions put to it by members of the public and saying it would not have pursued them if answers had been provided at an earlier stage.

At the trust’s annual general meeting last Thursday, it was announced that Mrs Simpson had resigned.

An item headed “nomination of new trustees” revealed there had been no expressions of interest in joining.

A statement was read ‘recommending the dissolution of the trust in accordance with its constitution and the rules of the charity commission’.

The meeting heard that trust president Lord Walton of Detchant, who was chairing the discussion, answered a series of questions put to the trust by the parish, including some relating to the carnival funds.

There was then a vote in favour of the trust continuing, if it can secure enough members before an extraordinary general meeting in the coming weeks.

The trust has told The Journal there have been several expressions of interest in joining.

Lord Walton, who has been involved since the trust was founded, last night said: “Everything will depend on whether new individuals will come forward.

“There have been so many unfortunate things said on both sides and my hope was to try and produce a satisfactory conclusion whereby the trust can look forward to a future of satisfactory co-operation with the parish council, which has not recently been evident.”

Parish council vice chairman Brenda Stanton said: “I would be happy if the development trust could continue and help develop things in Belford.”

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