'A whole generation of children in East Finchley are missing out': Community centre under investigation (From Times Series)
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Charity Commission investigates Old Barn Community Centre in East Finchley
The Charity Commission is investigating a community centre after receiving complaints it is a wasted asset which is never open for people to use.
People living near to the Old Barn Community Centre in Fallows Court have continuously attempted to use the facility since it was taken over by a new board of trustees in July 2010, but to no avail.
They often find that members of the Old Barn Youth and Community Association are not at the centre, or when they are, they cannot provide information on current activities.
Helen Drake, who lives in East Finchley and desperately wants to use the centre, said: "Our family has happy memories of wonderful birthday parties and other occasions held at the Old Barn and it is tragic that local people no longer have this resource available to them.
“As you can tell from its name, The Old Barn Youth and Community Association was a charity set up to provide services and activities for young people and yet this is not happening. A whole generation of children in East Finchley are missing out.
“The Trustees ongoing refusal to engage with local people and find out what the community wants to see happening at the Old Barn is unacceptable.
“The Charity Commission must take appropriate action and it must do it quickly. This current situation cannot continue."
The Charity Commission told the Times Series concerns have been raised about the “governance” of Old Barn Youth and Community Association and its “accountability to the local community”.
A spokeswoman said: “We have been corresponding with the charity and advising them on the next steps the trustees should take to improve the governance of the charity. We continue to be concerned about the charity, including the lack of action to establish a wide local membership.
“Our engagement with the charity and its trustees will continue until we are satisfied that the charity is back on a secure footing and that the trustees are properly governing the charity in accordance with its constitution.”
Mike Freer, MP for Finchley and Golders Green, recently attempted to become a member of the centre but decided against it when he was asked to give a copy of a utility bill, his passport and pay £50.
He said: “They’re setting the bar too high. I’d like to see if they can be persuaded to move on as they’re not really serving the local community, or for them to start serving the local community.”
Mr Freer said he will continue to lobby the Charity Commission to take action, as well as Barnet Council, who owns the building.
A spokeswoman for Barnet Council said: “The Old Barn has always been intended for recreational use by the local community and the council is looking for the best way to support this aim. We are liaising with the charity Commissioners as part of our support for the local community.”
The Times Series has been unable to contact the Old Barn Youth and Community Association for comment.
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