COUNCILLORS are set to banned from holding senior positions at local charities after concerns were raised in the summer about potential legal issues.

Members would have been told to review their positions at Bracknell trusts at a meeting in June but the issue was rescheduled for Wednesday evening (October 31) because the report outlining the proposals had not been finished.

A completed report read: “While it is difficult to speculate, where a member is nominated on to a board of an organisation as a trustee/director this is likely to be because the council at the time wanted to have some form of formal authority on the board or perhaps the organisation itself wanted formal representation in the belief that the elected member could sway some advantage in its dealings with the council.

“Whatever the historic reasons behind the decision to nominate Trustees/Directors, this legal link between the council and a voluntary sector organisation is unusual and would benefit from review.”

Currently, two councillors hold senior positions at local charities.

Councillor Dr Gareth Barnard is on Keep Mobile’s management team, a transport charity which currently receives £85,000 a year from the council.

Cllr Clifton Thompson is a trustee for Age Concern, which received £32,000 last year in order to run a day centre.

Councillors are already forbidden from being trustees at South Hill Park because of a “perception of a conflict of interest” and the report continued “it is difficult to see what advantage there is to the council in nominating to the position of a trustee/director since the individual must act in the interests of the board anyway.

“Their primary responsibility will be to the organisation itself, to advance its interests, as opposed to acting as a representative of the council.”

However, councillor Tony Virgo is still a trustee at South Hill Park, which was awarded £200,000 by the council in 2017 despite its £244,000 annual funding being cut.

These funds were a “general contribution towards the costs of providing the range of cultural activities that the Trust makes available” which “differs to the funding of voluntary organisations such as Citizens Advice Bureau, Involve and Shopmobility, who receive funds for specific services delivered for residents and which covers core costs such as staffing and office accommodation.”

Councillors Jan Angell and Isabel Mattick resigned from their positions as trustees at Bracknell Shopmobility recently.

Last month the News reported that the charity had sent a letter to the council pleading for more funds after its annual £32,000 grant was cut.

The report recommends that the council continues to support local charities but that councillors are no longer nominated to management positions at the organisations.

However council members may continue to nominate councillors to representative positions at the organisations, where they will act as “conduits for communication” between the charity and the council.

The report also added that it was possible that the recently proposed BFC lottery scheme could distribute funds to ‘every local voluntary organisation’ eligible.

In anticipation of this, the report stated: “In these circumstances it will be vital that any award is transparent and seen to be fair."

The changes are set to be agreed when the Bracknell Forest Council’s audit and governance committee meets on Wednesday, October 31.