Framlingham: Mills Charity defends itself against accusations of secret dealings
13:00 02 May 2014
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A charity has defended itself against accusations of secretive dealings raised during a public meeting.
The Framlingham-based Mills Charity came under fire at the town’s annual parish meeting on Wednesday.
Vic Stanbrook, a resident of the town, said it was “absolutely ridiculous” that the charity had failed to file a report with the town council.
“This is a trust set up to serve the people of Framlingham, it’s got £7.4million in the bank and yet they cannot even be bothered to come to the annual town meeting to tell us what they do,” he said.
“We don’t know how what they spend their money on, how they make their appointments or what they do. It’s like a secret society – how do they get away with it?”
The charity was established from the estate of the wealthy Framlingham businessman Thomas Mills to provide for the people of the town after his death in 1703.
Defending against the accusations, the Rev Michael Vipond, one of the charity’s trustees, said: “I would not associate myself with something that was underhanded or disreputable”.
He said the charity was “bound by the rules that Thomas Mills put to us” and explained that not every request it received was of a suitable nature.
“We’ve got to ask ourselves, what would Thomas Mills actually say?” he said.
Other residents, however, felt the explanation was less than satisfactory.
“Surely the most charitable thing is to help the people of Framlingham – I’m sure that Thomas Mills would say the same,” said one resident.
Mr Stanbrook was also unconvinced. Although he said he had “no criticism of the trustees” he suggested the amounts spent by the charity were “piddling”.
The Mills Charity’s latest financial statement filed in January 2013 said it held assets of around £7.4m, generating £124,000 income over the year. From that total it made contributions of £16,685 and spent £28,841 on the almshouses it maintains.
Philip Hurst, headteacher at Thomas Mills High School, who was the guest speaker at the meeting, said the charity had also made substantial contributions towards facilities at the school after that financial year.
A new multi-use games area at the school was completed using £30,000 donated by the charity.