WPCS vows to change after scathing report

A review of the Welsh Pony and Cob Society (WPCS) following a string of complaints to the Charity Commission calls for radical change to “a dysfunctional organisation”.

The 50-page independent report, commissioned by the WPCS and released last week (see a full copy at www.wpcs.uk.com), found the registered charity and limited company had “no written procedural infrastructure for governance or operations, including financial management”.

“It hasn’t been easy to read,” said chief officer Gian Fazey-Coven. “It’s daunting when you look at the recommendations. The important thing is we’ve accepted the need for change and that’s a big step forward.”

The report stressed that there was “substantial goodwill” demonstrated by the society to move forward.

Recommendations in a two-year programme include a significant reduction in the size of the council, currently comprising 35 trustees; open council meetings; an advisory body of member representatives; changes to disciplinary/complaint procedures; and revision and rationalisation of sub-committee structures.

The review was conducted on the advice of the Charity Commission — the regulator for charities in England and Wales — as an alternative to formal measures in the wake of an “unsettled and damaging period for the society”.

Since 1999, the commission has logged 28 cases of concern/complaint from WPCS members. The society also had to deal with a legal dispute that dragged on for almost two years over the suspension of a member, Dania Leyson, ultimately reinstated at the doors of the High Court.

The report also pointed to an earlier case for alleged unfair dismissal of a senior employee — settled out of court.

Concerns were raised about conflict of interest, given trustees can also be Welsh breeds show judges. Complaint/disciplinary procedures were felt to be inaccessible and unfair, with “no independent panels to hear internal actions against trustees and yet council has absolute powers to act against members without explanation”.

  • This news report was first published in Horse & Hound (20 July, ’06)