Dr Alistair Somerville-Ford FRSA
In early April I was approached by a number of West Christchurch residents who were unhappy about the management of the former WCRA operated by Mr J Biggin.
I have never met Mr Biggin and knew nothing about this gentleman’s activities prior to being approached by those seeking my help.
Apparently, no accounts had been filed by Mr Biggin for some time; there was no record of money he had collected; Members’ contact details were not published; he had been using his email facility to denigrate individuals; there was no Constitution; no AGM had been held to appoint directors or Committee Members; meetings were continuingly being cancelled and the WCRA email facility was being used as his personal blog.
I was asked to review the situation and to offer advice on what steps were available to address and rectify the situation.
I advised those who had requested my help that the only way to deal with the situation was to incorporate an Association under The Companies Act 2006.
They requested that this step be taken and the company was duly incorporated on the 5th May 2017.
The cost of incorporating the company was £600.00 and has been made available as part of our Social Development Fund for Community Projects. A website and email facility are now being developed for the company.
The company will be handed over to its first elected Council and my involvement with the company will then finish.
I wrote to Mr Biggin on the 6th May and a copy of my letter is reproduced below.
The Ringwood Connection
In one of his recent circulars Mr Biggin asked why someone living in Ringwood would be involved in taking over his organisation. He also raised the matter of the Leaflet I produced promoting a ‘No’ vote to the proposed Christchurch merger with Bournemouth.
The answer is that I was a Christchurch resident for more than twenty five years and still retain business interests in the Ancient Borough. The problem was that our main business kept growing and it reached a size which made it impossible to find offices large enough for us in Christchurch. It was with great reluctance that we had to buy land and build new offices in Ringwood.
So who are we and what do we do? We are an Educational Charity, but do no business in the UK. We develop business and management programmes for third level schools and colleges across the world and provide assessment services (examinations) to public and private sector teaching institutions.
Questions are often also raised about my motives for promoting a cause such as the one I’m currently pursuing – ‘Say No to the Amalgamation’.
The reality is that the Consultation process was deeply flawed and had to be challenged. I can assure you that it will not save the money that’s been promised!
For me, Christchurch has always been a very special place and one that I want to see protected, preserved, improved and nurtured. I have no problems with change, but it needs to be planned, understood and agreed by the community in which the change is proposed.
And my background? Forty years as an Independent Expert for just about every major International Development Agency and Bank, working across 108 countries. I can assure you that I do know something about Consultants and the way they work. I’ve spent years reviewing and auditing their work on behalf of those who fund them.
Over the years, I have provided well in excess of £1,000,000 to support events, such as, the Food Festival, the Christchurch Carnivals, CadArts, the Scouts and countless other community Groups and Societies.
Working with Elliot Katz, I funded and fought the battle to save Druitt Hall and I managed to have the Monday Market moved from Bank Close into the High Street and it’s now in a much better place.
Working with Sue Newman, I funded the Blue Plaques to highlight the Town’s History and Heritage and provided the Council with the salary to enable them to employ a Conservation Officer to protect the Town’s ancient buildings.
Bournemouth and Poole Hospitals have received essential equipment from me and we have just donated a substantial sum to Chelsea Hospital for new specialist equipment for children in their A&E Department.
I underwrite (guarantee) Grants from Lottery Funds to enable community groups to apply for and access Grants they need for their projects.
Why do I do all this? Because I have the resources, local Communities need supporting, and there are no pockets in shrouds.
Until such time as a final ‘home’ is found for the company in Christchurch, and new Directors have been appointed, ICM will host the website and the address for the company. The address in Ringwood, for contact purposes is: ICM House, Yeoman Road, Forest Business Park, Ringwood BH24 3FA.
If you would like to visit us we’d be delighted to see you.
The email address to use is: firstname.lastname@example.org This email address will also change when the first Council has been appointed and the final ‘home’ for the company has been established.
The company will need a secretary to manage the Membership list and to help populate the website with information for the residents of the Association. This two day a week paid position will be funded by ICM for the first year of the company’s operation. If you are interested in this post, please email your contact details and working history to me at the email address shown above. I look forward to hearing from you.
25th May 2017