Second member resigns from board of Thetford charitable trust

Denis Crawford. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Denis Crawford. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

A charitable trust whose board is made up of members of Thetford Town Council has been hit with the resignation of the second trustee this year after it began an overhaul of its practises.

Denis Crawford, Thetford Town and Norfolk county councillor, quit the Staniforth Trust last week, following Corinne Fulford's resignation in June.

At least one other councillor is also planning on quitting the board.

Their resignations come as moves are being made to change the make up of the board of trustees, with members from outside Thetford Town Council coming in.

The trust owns King's House and its gardens, where the town council rents offices and the registry office is based.


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Its board has been made up of town councillors since it was first founded in 1949, with elected councillors automatically becoming part of the board.

That structure is now in question, with the trust admitting that they are in breach of Charity Commission guidelines by having town councillors in decision-making roles.

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As a consequence, Tina Cunnells, an officer for Thetford Town Council, was hired as clerk in April and a QC hired to assess the trust's running practises.

Her hiring was criticised by a number of trustees, who saw it as being contrary to the aim of separating the council from the trust's operations.

Mr Crawford said he was not happy with the board's change of direction.

'We've been running the trust as a council since 1949 and they say we can't do it anymore.

'It was set up for the good of the people as a charitable trust to run King's House and the gardens but it seems to be going more commercial now.

'I am no longer in favour of the direction the trust is taking,' he said.

Ms Cunnells denied that there was any conflict of interest in her being appointed as clerk.

'From my view I am only a facilitator and not a decision-maker and have no influence on what happens.

'The only issue with a conflict of interest could be with councillors being trustees because they are the decision makers,' she said.

She added that the issue was 'emotive' for councillors.

Ms Fulford declined to comment.

Do you have a story for us? Email reporter Andrew Fitchett on andrew.fitchett@archant.co.uk

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