Since July 2014, the founding Directors of Lochside Arena consulted with Third Sector Hebrides (TSH) in a bid to ensure that Lochside Arena was being run correctly and in the way a Scottish Registered Charity should be run. It now appears that much of the advice provided was in fact not correct and proper Legal advice should have been sought from the outset of the previous Board’s difficulties.
Lochside Arena’s accountants – Mann Judd Gordon were also contacted with regards to the way in which the Arena was being governed and they stated that they had never had any concerns as to the way in which the Arena was operating since the organisation was formed in 2005, and up until January 2014 (when a new Treasurer took over the financial record keeping) there had never been issues with the way in which the Charity was being operated. All books and paperwork were being maintained correctly and in accordance with Charity regulations.
Companies House and OSCR (The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator) were also contacted by TSH, who enquired if there had ever been any concerns about Lochside Arena and the way it had been operating to date, since incorporation in December 2008, and they were perfectly happy with the way it was being run and all the necessary paperwork was always submitted on time and correctly as required.
Lochside Arena was created after securing very large sums of Grant funding from a variety of organisations (– both Public Sector and Private Sector), on the basis that it is a Community facility, and suitable for a variety of different sports. The call was made for new Directors in May 2014 requesting new Directors from a wider section of the whole Community and therefore better able to represent a more varied selection of activities rather than just those currently connected with the local equestrian groups. Now the newly appointed board of directors appears to consist of those with only equestrian connections – which lead to the impression that Lochside Arena is regarded as an Equestrian Centre rather than a multi-purpose indoor facility.
On the day after the new board of Directors was appointed – 7th February 2015, a numeric key pad was installed on the pedestrian access door on the Lochside Arena building. This was done without full board approval, and goes against the recommendations of the Lochside Arena’s insurance company’s guide lines.
It had been evident that additional sand was required for the surface since early 2014, but the Lochside Arena finances were restricting the purchase of replacement sand. Enquiries were made regarding additional sand from the supplier in the autumn of 2014, and although agreed with the supplier, the Chair said to hold off ordering at that time – suggesting taking sand from the corners and levelling would suffice for the meantime. It became apparent however at the beginning of the year that there was no option other than purchase additional sand – the level was down to the hard in places. 120 tonnes of sand was brought in to the arena in early January at a cost of £3,100.00 – this is less than half of what is really required, but the Lochside Arena finances at that time would simply not stretch to a further cost of £3,100.00.
When Lochside Arena opened its doors for use in August 2012, there was an over-spend of £27,000.00. Since that time the debt has been reduced by over £20,400.00 (£10K of this cleared with additional grant aid secured) to £6,600.00, although with the new sand Lochside Arena currently now owes £10,200.00 . A good relationship has been built with IA & C MacIver Ltd (Lochside’s main creditor) and it is important to maintain this. They have been reassured when receiving regular payments from Lochside Arena and know that there is a guarantee they will receive all the outstanding debt.
Mrs Allison Fellows purchased 30 rubber mats shortly before the arena opened and later a garden shed to be used as a judging box. These items were purchased by her on the basis that once the Arena was generating an income, it would repay Allison the costs she had previously covered. In early February 2015, Allison agreed to accept 50% of the costs she’d incurred for the matting and the judges box - £650.00. The new board of Lochside Arena were approached regarding payment but they decided that it was better for both the matting and the judge’s box to be removed from the arena building, rather than make any payment to Mrs Fellows.
None of the founding Directors have ever taken any money/remuneration from Lochside Arena, despite one director repeatedly going out to Lochside to unlock or lock up, grade the surface, lift droppings on all surfaces as well as the car park, take rubbish bins to road side for emptying,sweep & clean floors - both aisles and in port-a-cabins, as well as general day to day repair & maintenance. Neither the time element nor the petrol costs have been re-imbursed to this Director, who was more concerned with making sure the arena is run in the best way possible, and for the benefit of all its users.
The standard procedures for the election of new Directors , and the resignation of old Directors from the board of a Charitable Company is usually done at the Charities AGM each year. The removal of Directors mid-way through the year can be done if there are valid and agreed reasons - e.g. ‘gross misconduct’, ‘misappropriation of funds’ , ‘failure to operate under the Charities main objectives’ – there have been none of these factors occurring to date with Lochside Arena except for a very clear desire from certain fellow directors to have specific directors removed from the board - this has been achieved and can only be regarded as vindictive, aggressive and destructive.