Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Caia Park Communities First in crisis

First it was the chair and key board members from Caia Park Communities First who resigned. Now it appears that long-standing coordinator Gary Jones has also quit his job at the company, which has an annual income of more than £800,000.
This is the BBC's account of the first set of resignations:
Five out of 16 people have resigned from a company set up to help people on a Wrexham estate, due to concerns about how the project will be run.
Former chair of Caia Park's Communities First Board (CPCF), Christine Thomas, said some people could lose out due to proposed changes. Not everyone agrees and one board member said the changes would allow more spending on front-line services.
There are plans for Wrexham council to take over the CPCF role from September. The current CPCF is a company limited by guarantee on a not-for-profit basis. Bids for funding were sent to the Welsh government for approval and then, if accepted, the CPCF was responsible for overseeing the spending.But the Wales-wide review of Communities First will mean structural changes taking place.
For Caia Park it will mean joining up with Hightown and losing its financial independence, with Wrexham council taking over as lead development body. At the Caia Park Board on Tuesday, members were presented with the resignation of five of the six "resident" members.
Their resignation letters all said they were unhappy with the way in which the issue of local community involvement was heading. Three of them said that deteriorating health was also a major factor. Former chair Ms Thomas said while change was inevitable, the system which had been in place for the past 10 years had been praised as "best practice" by the Senedd, and the members had experience.
She said concerns about the future, coupled with health problems, had prompted her to step down."My main concern is that I don't feel that the community consultation has been enough, so not everyone is involved," she said."We've had quite a few successes in Wrexham, and Caia Park, so I do wish the programme well in the next 10 years," she added.
Board member Malcolm King, who is also a Caia Park county councillor and is staying on, said the resignations all at once "came as quite a shock, although in many ways not a surprise".
He said three members had been suffering from ill-health, and there was a lot of disappointment about the apparent loss of independence as well as unhappiness about some of the processes.He said the loss of experience on the board would "undoubtedly be a significant loss" and he was sorry to see them go.Mr King added that he was optimistic about the future.
"We must not forget the reason why we are doing this and that is that Caia Park suffers from some of the highest levels of child poverty and educational deprivation in the whole of Wales and we must all dedicate ourselves to this task and not be distracted from it," he said.

The past decade has seen millions of money channelled into Caia Park through Communities First, as is the case with many other deprived areas of Wales. What is less evident is whether the project has lived up to its billing in terms of empowering the local community.
It has funded local projects such as Deva House and The Venture, but the key work of getting the community to stand on its own two feet has been a missed opportunity. This is, in part, down to the needless duplication that occurred initially.
There was already a community-based organisation in the Park - Caia Park Partnership - that delivers services, has hundreds of active volunteers and employs a large of people through a variety of self-financing social enterprises. This expertise has taken more than a decade to foster and imposing another community organisation on the area from above was a recipe for empire building and needless competition.
Whether there are other issues to emerge from these sudden resignations remains to be seen. An emergency board meeting today (Tuesday) will decide on a course of action.

Update: cllrs Keith Gregory and Ron Prince have also resigned from the board.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Welsh Government should launch an external audit as soon as possible and not drag their feet as they did with Plas Madoc.

Anonymous said...

The biggest problem with Caia Park CF is that there are Board members who benefit personally from financial decisions made at that Board. Do they declare personal and prejudicial interests and leave the meetings? These are the questions that need answering.

Anonymous said...

Time to check on certain people, especially the one who embezzled cash from a charity and the Labour Party some years ago.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

I now hear that two of the 3 County Councillors on the Caia CF board have now resigned as well.

Anonymous said...

Yes,I agree with 14.35,why did the former chairman resign? Did she have something to hide from a possible future investigation?

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

We have asked for an external audit before the new clusters come in in October.

Anonymous said...

If there are problems here, plaid have to force the councillors who resigned out

Anonymous said...

If there is to be an external audit then everyone who has been associated with the internal affairs of the organisation should be subject to investigation.
There is no smoke without fire!

Gary Jones said...

I would like to correct your statement regarding my resignation from Caia Park communities first. I am retiring not resigning as I could have done last October but stayed on to assist the process and cluster arrangements with Hightown.I notified W.G and Board Members of this months before any resignations. With regards to requests for Audit this was done in 2010 and if people recall we were given a clean bill of health and was quoted in the Senedd as an example best practice so if an audit is felt necessary I say bring it on

Gary Jones
Coordinator Caia park communities First Ltd..