The 4 Winds Trust is a charity which was set up in 2013 to distribute funds to the communities covered by the four community councils of Lochgelly, Cowdenbeath, Lumphinnans and Auchtertool. The Trust’s income consists of ‘community benefit’ payments from Little Raith Wind Farm which currently amount to £49,500 per year. Seven trustees drawn from the four community councils meet regularly to decide which applicants should be awarded grants.

The Trust’s guidance states that any community project for public benefit is eligible for funding so long as it improves the quality of life for local residents and the applicant is any constituted group within the communities of Auchtertool, Lumphinnans, Lochgelly and Cowdenbeath. Individuals, projects considered to be statutory (such as school provision), projects outwith the four areas or groups without a constitution or bank account are not eligible. There is no minimum or maximum level of funding, although “it is anticipated that the normal level of support will not normally exceed £1000”.

The guidance also says that trustees “will not normally consider multiple applications from the same group during the constitutional term”. While “upon satisfactory completion of one project, a second application may be submitted … the same project will not be funded annually as a matter of course”.

In response to a complaint about their operations in 2015, the 4 Winds Trust was investigated by the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR), found to be multiply in breach of charitable regulations and required to tighten up its procedures. One of these was that the Trust had to submit compliant annual accounts to OSCR, which it did for the first time in August of this year.

The accounts list all awards made by the Trust for the tax year ending 30/04/16. These accounts are publicly available on OSCR’s website and the community council archive . We have extracted information about the awards from these accounts below. Some of the grants overlap with ones we published on LOSW in July when we obtained a list of grants made between 2013 and 2015 via a Freedom of Information request to OSCR.

Questions were raised about the Trust’s policy for awarding grants when the information for 2013-2015 appeared in July, but both the Trust and the four community councils who are responsible for it ignored these questions. The full list of awards for the tax year 2015-2016 raises the same questions, and more. It would seem, on the surface at least, that contrary to its “normal” practice as stated in its guidelines, the Trust regularly makes grants exceeding £1000, awards more than one grant to the same group in a year and and gives some groups annual funding. The same questions about the status of some of the recipients as genuine community organisations, as groups based in the four communities or as projects which could be considered as statutory also arise.

Once again, Lochgelly has received the lion’s share of the annual community benefit from Little Raith. The Chair and Treasurer of the Trust are both from Lochgelly Community Council, where they are Secretary and Chair respectively.

Amounts Awarded per geographical area (2015-2016)

Area Total Amount Awarded (£)
Auchtertool £2,000
Cowdenbeath £15,535
Lochgelly £36,190
Lumphinnans £4,500
Glasgow £500
Location could not be determined* £6,510

* Locations that could not be determined for the following group: Central Fife Community Safety Partnership, Co-op Womens Guild, Clock Street Pastors

Lochgelly Community Christmas Lights



Breakdown of Expenditure – 2015-2016

Group Award Amount (£)
Masonic Lodge Minto 385 (two applications) £3,500
Lochgelly Community Council (one application) £700
Cowdenbeath Civic Week (two applications) £5,555
Cowdenbeath Golf Club (one application) £1,000
Zodiac School of Dance (three applications) £3,000
46th Scout Group (two applications) £1,980
Central Fife Community Safety Panel (one application) £3,000
Blue Brazil (one application) £1,000
Caledonian Bonsai (one application) £1,000
Young Enterprise Scotland (one application) £500
Lochgelly Old Folks Reunion (two applications) £2,500
Beath and Cowdenbeath North Church (one application) £2,500
Lumphinnans AFC (one application) £1,000
Lochgelly Community Development Forum (two applications) £2,925
LKB United FC (one application) £840
Homestart Lochgelly (one application) £715
Scottish Co-ops Womens Guild (one application) £2,510
Lochgelly Bowling Club (two applications) £2,822
Lumphinnans Social Group (one application) £1,500
Cowdenbeath Horticultural Society (one application) £1,000
Lochgelly Golf Club (one application) £1,500
Cowdenbeath Bowling Club (one application) £1,500
Station Road Indoor Bowling Club (one application) £1,000
Lochgelly Albert JFC (one application) £1,500
Lochgelly West Primary – PTA (one application) £2,000
Lochgelly St Pats. Primary (one application) £2,000
Funky Fifers (one application) £1,000
Lochgelly Community Christmas Lights (one application) £1,000
Lochgelly South Primary School (one application) £2,000
Lumphinnans Primary School – PTA (one application) £2,000
Auchtertool PC (one application) £2,000
Cowdenbeath Afterschool Club (one application) £2,000
Clock Street Pastors (one application) £1,000
St Serfs Parish Church – Lochgelly (one application) £2,347
Lochgelly Brass Band (one application) £2,500
Lochgelly & District Amateur Musical Association (one application) £1,341
TOTAL £66,235

At the end of the financial year the 4 Winds Trust had £73,000 remaining in the bank account.


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One Comment

  1. Linda Holt

    November 18, 2016 at 11:24 am

    This is a letter I sent to the Central Fife Times.

    Sir,

    It was good of you to allow James Glen to revisit issues about the conduct of the 4 Winds Trust in your Letters page. Despite trustees promising the charities regulator OSCR that they would mend their ways, there is still a long way to go before the Trust is properly transparent and accountable.

    Readers may recall that FOIs in the summer revealed that the Trust had given tens of thousands of pounds to a number of local organisations for unspecified projects, even though some of these groups did not seem to be community organisations at all or that local. Questions were also raised about conflicts of interest among the trustees. The 4 Winds Trust and the community councils who are responsible for it ignored these questions.

    I wrote three times to Brian Schulz as Chair of Lochgelly Community Council to request OSCR’s letter which the minutes stated was available on request, but received no reply on each occasion. This is despite the fact that I was requesting the information as an invited witness for the House of Commons’ Scottish Affairs Committee. After I gave oral evidence to their inquiry into renewable energy in Scotland, where I cited the 4 Winds Trust as an example of problems with the way community benefit operates, I was invited to follow up with further written evidence, and I wanted to make sure it was as accurate and up-to-date as possible.

    Now I see the Trust has at last responded to OSCR’s requirements to submit compliant accounts, publishing those for the tax year 2015-16. The Trust dished out £66,235 in 44 awards to 36 organisations. Grants ranged in size from £500 to £3055.

    Contrary to the Trust’s guidelines, most of the awards were for more than £1000 and seven organisations received two awards, and one three, in 2015-16. Comparing the list of previous awards obtained under FOI, it would appear that there are some organisations, such as the Masons at Minto Lodge 385, who are now relying on the Trust for an annual grant, even though this is expressly against the Trust’s rules.

    A more worrying tendency revealed by the 2015/16 accounts is that once again Lochgelly appears to have received the lion’s share of funding among the four community council areas which are supposed to benefit. It’s difficult not to feel this has something to do with the fact that the Trust’s Chair and Treasurer, Stevie Murray and Brian Schulz, represent Lochgelly Community Council, where they also occupy the posts of Secretary and Chair respectively.

    The conflicts of interest become murkier still when one considers that some of the grant recipients are bodies or projects which look as if they fall into the statutory category, where Fife Council is responsible for them, and therefore, according to the Trust’s rules, ineligible for funding. Both Messrs Murray and Schulz work for Fife Council and appear to be using Lochgelly Community Council as an intermediary whereby charitable money is directed towards things Fife Council should be paying for. For example, £700 awarded to Lochgelly Community Council was used to pay Fife Council to provide 8 hanging baskets in the public park.

    Perhaps these apparent anomolies are in fact completely above board and the Trust is operating in a just and proper manner. However, until the Trust publishes full minutes of its proceedings, including information about the winning projects and organisations, and about trustees who declared an interest and absented themselves from consideration of particular applications, no one can know. And worse still, organisations will continue to be left in the dark about their honest prospects in applying for awards.

    Yours etc
    Linda Holt

    Reply

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