19 June 2010

Who are they (pt2)?

Recently I was informed that the 'Somerton Community Association' had published financial information under the headline, "Somerton Community Association under attack".

Its very interesting to note that with the old Somerton Town Council, ie the Keenan/Canvin administration, all you had to do was to ask questions and show reasonable interest in order to be described as a troublemaker. The 'Somerton Community Association', having direct links with the old Somerton Town Council, follow exactly the same route and it suggests that the 'SCA' shares its culture with that of the old Somerton Town Council. It embraces secrecy and exclusivity and is happy to trade on the identity of Somerton in order to generate donations and attract public funds then it spends those donations and funds with no reference to the community upon whose identity it trades.

I have tried to obtain information from the Chairperson of the 'SCA' and, as with the old Somerton Town Council, the Chairperson of the 'SCA' chooses not to reply. I am therefore left to speculate on the answers to the questions I have asked. Obviously, whilst this isn't an ideal situation, the 'SCA' cannot therefore object if my speculations turn out to be wide of the mark. To mis-quote the ex-ViceChair of Somerton Town Council, Tony Canvin, I'm sure that they could clear it all up in 10 minutes if they could be bothered. The fact that the 'SCA' chooses not to reply leaves me wondering what, exactly, have they got to hide.

For example, I do wonder if the 'SCA' has been used, by the old Somerton Town Council, as an alternative source of funds to undertake work for which the old Somerton Town Council did not have the funds. The relationship between the Chairperson of the 'SCA' and the 'assistant to the Town Clerk' would then take on a rather darker hue. Was this the 'quid pro quo' for giving the Chairperson of the 'SCA' a publicly funded post with Somerton Town Council?

I am also struck by the documentation, dated Feb 2005, where the 'SCA' explains that it has collected £175,000 and then, in 2010, the 'SCA' stated, on the Somerton Town Council website, that it has collected £185,000. From this are we to assume that the 'SCA' only collected £10,000 in the last 5 years where it collected £175,000 before that?

There are many questions to be answered by the 'SCA' and the longer they seek to keep their activities secret and without accountability, the stronger will be the perception that they have something to hide. Personally, I would like to see accounts and bank statements in order to be certain that funds received by the 'SCA' have been used appropriately. I would like to see the consultations that they have undertaken with the community prior to the expenditure of donations and Land-Fill Tax receipts. Only in this way can anyone believe that the 'Somerton Community Association' is what it claims to be and that it has not been obtaining money by deception.

Till next time, I'm Niall Connolly