Action 4 Botton

Trustee Resigns Amid Controversy over Charity’s Conduct - cites fundamental breach of founding Steiner ethos contained in the Memorandum of Association

9 February 2015 - The first casualty of the controversy surrounding the activities of the charity Camphill Village Trust (CVT) is the shock resignation last week of its last Co-worker Trustee Ian Bailey.

It is very clear from his resignation letter that changes planned by the CVT Trustees and being implemented by the charity’s senior management have rendered Mr Bailey's position untenable.

In his resignation letter to Chair of Trustees Felicity Chadwick-Histed, Mr Bailey cited a number of reasons for leaving including that “I fundamentally disagree with the line taken by the Board in its interpretation, or lack of understanding of, the Articles & Memorandum of the Trust”; an issue that is now the subject of potential legal action from three groups of campaigners who oppose CVT’s sweeping changes.  The groups maintain that the charity’s actions in destroying the communities they were charged with protecting are in direct contravention of the remit under which CVT was originally set up, as clearly detailed in the Memorandum.

A CVT Trustee for over four years, and Camphill Co-worker for fourteen, Mr Bailey expressed deep concerns about irregularities in the way the board itself was operating including, disturbingly,  “the almost total lack of information, minutes of Board meetings” and that he was evidently excluded as a Trustee from the decision making process. He states that the Charity seemed not to “have felt any obligation to treat me with the respect normally due to a Trustee of an organisation.”

Campaigners Action for Botton trust that the Charity Commission and North Yorkshire County Council will take due note of these extremely worrying revelations of governance irregularities from within CVT. 

In addition, Mr Bailey cited concerns that the charity was not listening to or willing to hear the messages coming from “a very broad range of stakeholders”, including the learning disabled themselves, and stated “that they need to reconsider their strategy in relation to the development of these particular communities”.

CVT has been hitting the headlines recently over its unpopular policy of forcing segregation on learning disabled residents, separating them from their volunteer Co-worker families, some of whom they have lived with for decades. This policy has torn apart long-standing intentional communities across the UK, and will see the learning disabled isolated in unfulfilled living situations they did not choose and do not want. What’s more, it had become the subject of a detailed Letter Before Action from Bindman’s solicitors who believe that there are multiple breaches of the residents’ human rights.

Both the learning disabled, and able-bodied volunteer Co-workers who together make up these vibrant intentional communities, have gone on record over recent months alleging harassment, assorted breaches of law*, and a variety of unsavoury and underhanded tactics on the part of management, such as gerrymandering the voting membership, in its attempts force change through without regard to the clear and unequivocal wishes of the community members.  

Ridding the Trust of its volunteer live-in community members has drawn no small criticism from the wider Camphill movement and is being resisted on multiple fronts. The Charity has met with opposition from campaign groups attached to different communities, Delrow (Watford), The Grange (Forest of Dean) and founding community, Botton Village, in North Yorkshire. The groups include stakeholders such as volunteer Co-workers, the families of learning disabled residents and the learning disabled themselves who, yesterday at Botton, petitioned the local council and charity management to stop the changes. 

Finally Mr Bailey also aired his view that the CVT team entered into the recently failed mediation dialogue with “no genuine intent to find a win/win solution”.  He felt CVT plans for the eviction of long standing volunteer Co-workers “it seems, were pre-existing even before the attempted mediation”.

He concluded his resignation “with …. some hope that the ethos and very special unique quality of ‘Camphill’ might somehow manage to survive into the future of the Camphill Village Trust."

Action for Botton wish to place on record their appreciation of Ian for his devoted work for the charity over an extensive period of years. We wish him well in his future endeavours.