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Controversial dormant charity tries to sell-off Caledonian Road community asset

July 1, 2014
A for-sale-by-auction sign went up on the building on June 30th.

A for-sale-by-auction sign went up on the building on June 30th.

A dormant charity is trying to cash-in by selling a Cally community building. For over 4 years, Councillors and local campaigners have been trying to bring this building back into use. Now, Councillors and outraged local residents are trying to block the sale. In 2010 Cally Councillors pledged to try and rescue the building from disrepair and disuse.

The charity which controls the building is called the ‘Underdog Trust’ and is effectively a one-man outfit. It has provided no services of any kind to the local community for decades. Run by a Mr Marg McNeil, the charity has clearly been in breach of its charitable objectives for many years.

Despite this, the Charity Commission has failed to step-in and Islington Council has, instead, acted to exert influence over the building’s future and use.

Islington Council had already started to charge full business rates on the building having revoked a 80% concession on business rates that is available to all legitimate charities. When Mr McNeil challenged this in court, Islington Council won. The judge ruled that the charity did not qualify for the discount on its business rates which a genuinely active charity would automatically qualify for.

Cllr Paul Convery comments “It’s bad enough having a rogue landlord on the Cally. Now we have a rogue charity. Selling this building is a scandal.

“The Underdog charity has been dormant for a very long time and has sat on a valuable asset for years. It has rejected demands by local councillors to publicly account for what it does. That’s because it does nothing.

“The charity has been used by one person exclusively to pursue a hobby which is of no use to anyone and is in clear breach of the Trust’s charitable objectives. Now that man wants to sell the building. If successful, the money from the sale will go into this dubious charity’s bank accounts and the asset will be taken away from this neighbourhood. We shall pursue every available route to prevent this happening.

“The building is up for sale by auction on July 17th and we shall warn the auctioneers that Underdog Trust may not have “clear title” to sell; that the particulars of sale misrepresent the building’s permitted use; that the Council has a legal charge against the building; and that a valid permission must be given by the Charity Commission prior to its sale.

“To sell it under these circumstances could be fraudulent.”

Details of the attempted sale can be viewed here. The charity’s entry on the Charity Commission register can be viewed here.



3 Comments leave one →
  1. Rupert Perry permalink
    July 17, 2014 5:13 pm

    Sold for £1.6m on 17/714

  2. permalink
    August 27, 2014 9:12 pm

    I saw the ground level being cleared by a removals company two days ago. Does that mean the sale was successful? I just found this, apparently yes…

    sad that the building was closed to the public for so long and that Marg’s project was not available to the community…

    • September 2, 2014 12:10 pm

      Yes, the building has been sold to a company called Opticrealm that has a track record of development in the area. We’ll be talking to them about possible future use of the site. They have, thank goodness, removed the worst of crazy security measures not least the rolls of razor wire around the back of the building on Carnoustie Drive.

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