Monday 25 September 2023

Butt again refuses representations on Barham Park. Time for the Charity Commission to intervene?


 Thanks to Rucksack Traveller for this video taken a year ago LINK


The Barham Parks Trustees Committee meets again tomorrow (10am Brent Civic Centre) as a result of the Trusts's accounts being pulled from the last agenda because of a considerable number of errors. 


Francis Henry requested to speak at tomorrow's meeting but the request was refused by Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council and Chair of Trustees.


It is normal practice that representations can be made to local council committees on items that are on the Agenda of a particulat meeting. At the previous meeting Muhammed Butt refused representations (and indeed stopped Francis Henry from making them) on the plans for the future of the parks that were on the agenda. This time Butt refused despite the fact that the only item on the agenda is the accounts and Henry's submission deals  with serious shortcomings regarding them.

Surely it is time for the Charity Commission to look into compliance issues around the Trust. LINK


Henry wrote to the Council to express his diasppointment:



It is disappointing that once again Councillor Butt is refusing to listen to a local representative of local people who uses and cares about Barham Park.


It is clear that he wants to hide and not acknowledge that Barham Park is being neglected and mismanaged and faces ruin under his stewardship.


We will not allow this to happen.


I enclose a summary of the issues I want you to present to the Trustees and to be reproduced as a submission (in full )as part of the minutes of the meeting.



Francis Henry




Dear Councillor Butt and other Trustees


I am writing in my capacity as Chair of a recently formed Friends of Barham Park (FoBP). The President of FoBP is Allan Barham who is the great grandson of one of Titus Barham's cousins. His grandfather worked for Arthur Barham (brother of Titus Barham ) who was the Managing Director of United Dairies (later Unigate). in the late 1800s and early 1900s both Titus and Arthur lived in the buildings currently occupied by Friends of Barham Library and the other tenants. He is concerned about what his going on with the Titus Barham bequest and wishes that the memory of Titus and his contribution was better looked after.


In the short time since its creation FoBP has signed up 150 supporters. The number is growing every day. We also have the support of numerous local groups operating in the Sudbury and Wembley area.


I originally came to speak to the Barham Park Trust Meeting on 5 September following an invitation from the Council. That invitation did not give any restrictions on what issues I could speak on.


It has always been the practice for invited representatives of existing tenants to speak on any issue of concern on the Agenda. The minutes of previous meeting (Page 1 of the Agenda that was before you) make this absolutely clear.


I came  to speak on behalf of Friends of Barham Library (FOBL) - an active community organisation providing invaluable services to local people from our premises in Barham Park.

Despite of this you both interrupted my contribution and them prevented me from speaking. I came to raise concerns about the recommendations before you that will deprive Barham Community Library, run by FOBL, of our hard won space in Barham Park.


FOBL, and the tenants were neither informed or consulted about the proposals before the Meeting on 5 September. What are now described as "hypothetical" proposals require all tenants to be removed with no guarantee of return.


Officers failed to advise you that the proposals could not be implemented in the foreseeable future because has ACAVA has 6 years remaining on their Lease and FOBL has 8 years to go. There are no break clauses in favour of the Trusts and the tenants have the right of "quiet enjoyment" - i.e. no noisy or disruptive building work permitted. The £20,000 + cost of this consultancy work (apparently charged to the Trust) has been wasted. While the recommendations may be "hypothetical" the large sum of money spent is real and could have been used on much needed repairs instead.


There have been earlier consultancy "vision" exercises and condition surveys in the past 10 years. These also recommended pie in the sky ideas - a large pond with a viewing platform for example. This was never implemented for obvious reasons - it was a mad idea.


Recommendations to carry out essential repairs and maintenance to the plaster work and wooden features of the buildings and repair and upgrading of the crumbling paths and walls have never been carried. Instead of undertaking essential works the Trust under your stewardship has wasted around £40,000 on these type of pointless consultancy exercises.


Barham Park is neglected and faces ruin. Yet the bronze option which was meant to develop a repair and maintenance plan has been inexplicably dropped.


The excuse for this is the claim that the Trust is not generating enough income. This is partly because it is YOU who decided to implement a policy of rents based on social value and because officers have failed for years to collect the correct income that is due to the Trust. ACAVA was allowed to build up rent arrears equal to much more than their annual rent due. They were not charged interest on these arrears. Their rent review due in 2019 was overlooked - losing the Trust in excess of £5,000 in rent each year since then. (£20,000 lost income in the 4 years since). Who made the decision to forget or ignore the terms of their lease?


There are many more examples where correct income has not been charged or recoverable expenses have not been recovered. Officers do not bother to tell you and none of the Trustees bother to find out the truth.


Local people love Barham Park and are angry at the way Brent Council as Trustee and Managers of the Park allow it be neglected and run down. 


Those local people, with much greater local knowledge than either you or the other Trustees, are ignored or not allowed to speak at the Trust meetings.  


The Accounts presented to the Trustees are misleading and fundamentally wrong. They had to be pulled at the last moment on 5 September. The revised Accounts are still wrong as they do not reflect the reality and are completely misleading.


Where for example in those accounts or those for previous years does it show the Income (grants) received to undertake the work on the Barham Park Pond or the ongoing work on the QE II Silver Jubilee Garden and where is the expenditure shown and included. The total sums involved exceed £100,000 and yet the accounts do not show any of this financial activity. In both cases the Accounts should show 'restricted' income and the ongoing expenditure that the income is being used for.


As Paul Lorber has already pointed out to officers the 2022/23 revised Accounts being presented are wrong and misleading. The Trustees should NOT approve them and ask for an accountant with knowledge of Charity accounting & reporting to review the financial affairs of the Barham Park Trust and assist in the preparation of accounts that reflect the true position of the Income & Expenditure of the Trust for the year to 31 March 2023 and the Trusts financial position as at 31 March 2023.


There is a long list of failures to highlight in the way Barham Park has been mismanaged and money wasted. The Trustees are not being told the truth and you and the others are failing to ask the right questions.


If you either want to know the truth and have a genuine commitment to improve Barham Park and its building and recreation of local people as Titus Barham intended, then you have to start listening and engaging with people who know a great deal about Barham Park and whole heartedly care for its future.




Francis Henry

for Friends of Barham Park

representing the views of local people


Readers having been present at the last meeting or seen the video or media reports may be interested in how the Minutes record what happened.




Anonymous said...

If Brent Council can't get the Barham Park Trust accounts correct how do we know they are getting the main Brent Council council accounts correct???

G.Lee said...

are the minutes agreed by those who attended?