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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Middlesbrough charity probed by Government watchdog over payments to connected parties

An investigation has been launched into a community charity in Middlesbrough amid concerns over governance.

The Charity Commission launched an inquiry into Streets Ahead for Information after submission of its overdue accounts. Lines of investigation relate to “trustees’ oversight and management of conflicts of interest and payments to connected parties” and whether there has been any “unauthorised personal benefit”.

Set up in 2006, the community drop-in centre on Parliament Road in Gresham offers English classes and a reporting centre for environmental, crime and anti-social behaviour concerns. Middlesbrough Mayor Chris Cooke worked at the help and advice centre when he was a councillor for the Newport ward.

The Charity Commission said its concerns followed the double default of the charity’s reporting of annual accounts for the financial years ending August 2020 and 2021. Upon submission of the overdue accounts, the commission concluded they required further investigation as part of a new inquiry.

This was opened on April this year. The Government watchdog said it will “examine if the trustees have fulfilled their duties and responsibilities under charity law and if there has been any misconduct and/or mismanagement in the administration of the charity.”

The scope of the inquiry could be extended if additional regulatory issues emerge, said the regulator. A spokesperson for the Charity Commission said: “Our inquiry into Streets Ahead for Information is ongoing. It is our policy to publish a report on the conclusion of the inquiry, setting out any findings, actions we’ve taken and conclusions.”

The charity declined to comment on the inquiry. A spokesperson for Middlesbrough Council said it would be “wholly inappropriate” to comment on the ongoing investigation.

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