In March 2016, two local community groups attempted to join the Westway Trust as Member Organisations. Both attempts were thwarted and in one case, a long exchange took place, which highlighted the lack of transparency at the Trust.
In communication to the Grenfell Action Group and in the long exchange with Bbalance, the then Finance Director, Mark Lockhart (now the joint CEO on £90k) focused on one particular thing that has completely baffled anyone with knowledge of the Westway Trust.
This statement, repeated in many ways throughout the exchanges, overtly implies that a close and meaningful relationship is held with those groups accepted as Member Organisations of the Westway Trust:
"our Board will need to understand how our two organisations WILL HAVE AN ACTIVE AND CONSTRUCTIVE RELATIONSHIP INTO THE FUTURE"
The Member Organisations are a critical element of the Westway Trust. They, along with the Trustees, each have a vote on critical matters. They are mandated through the Articles of Association to call an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) if they see fit.
The Trust itself claims publicly that the Member Organisations and their 3 elected board members are proof that they are a viable and representative community organisation ("One of the many ways in which Westway Trust is so closely linked with the local community is through our Member Organisations, which now number more than 60").
Yet, we know for a fact that the relationship with the vast majority of Member Organisations is virtually non-existent.
The creation of Westway23 in 2015 brought this to light and in fact led to the removal of some groups. But, has the situation substantively changed? Or do the Member Organisations remain distant and in no way demonstrative of an "AN ACTIVE AND CONSTRUCTIVE RELATIONSHIP"?
The following would suggest not:
- Member Organisations do not turn up to AGM's. In 2015 (before the creation of Westway23) 6 (SIX) out of a possible 40+ (FORTY PLUS) groups attended the AGM. Only 4 (FOUR) even provided apologies for their absence. The number of Member Organisations who attended the last AGM in 2017 was 17 (SEVENTEEN) out of around 60. Even this rise from 6 to 17 is likely due to the influence of Westway23.
- Member Organisations do not vote. They do not take part in even their most basic function, not even by proxy (although one must seriously question the position of every single vote taken by proxy).
- Member Organisations do not respond to the issues when raised by community members. In some cases they actively bury their heads in the sand in case the Trust may withdraw some benefit.
- Member Organisations are not aware of the issues at the Westway Trust. Member groups who have finally lifted their heads up or have belatedly attended AGM's consistently claim that they "had no idea of what was happening".
- In the words of one unnamed Westway Trust Trustee, Member Organisations are "either under the thumb, indifferent or too conflicted to be effective".
If you are a part of a Westway Trust Member Organisation or have a line of communication with one, now is the time to give them a firm and insistent tap on the shoulder.
BEING A SILENT PARTNER IN THE WHOLESALE ABUSE AND EXPLOITATION OF THE NORTH KENSINGTON COMMUNITY IS NO LONGER AN OPTION.
Here is a full list of the current Member Organisations: http://www.westway.org/our-member-organisations