29 September 2011: Email to Celia Gibson

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Dear Celia

I have read your One Wrexham Charter documentation (see below).

I wish to lodge a formal complaint about one of the signatories to this charter: Association of Voluntary Organisations in Wrexham.

It is clear from the damning findings of the Employment Tribunal in a case I won back in March and for which the written reasons were issued in August (documentation attached) that AVOW should be removed as a charter signatory. Not only is it manifestly failing to uphold charter standards, it is busy signing up other organisations in its role as mentor and supporter of other voluntary organisations in Wrexham. This threatens to bring the whole sector into disrepute.

As well as the attached documentation, there is additional information, press coverage, updates etc. on this website: https://notavow.wordpress.com.

So far, AVOW has yet to take any visible action to rectify its serious governance problems. Chief Officer John Gallanders is still in post, or at least he was at the end of last week, while none of the Trustees who were directly involved in my case and criticised so severely by the Tribunal have, to my knowledge, resigned.

Of the charter expectations:

• share good practice with via the One Wrexham Charter Network
• make progress in promoting equality and addressing diversity
• review your organisational ways of working including looking at your policies
and practices
• ensure your services are as accessible and inclusive as possible
• support staff and people working within your organisation or group to develop
skills and understanding of diversity to promote inclusion and promote
equality
• challenge discrimination and unfair practices
• display the On Wrexham Charter and promote awareness of its aims

AVOW cannot claim to be meeting at least five of the seven requirements. Further, it operates in such an opaque manner that there is simply no accountability. For instance, AVOW failed to provide details of improvements to its policies and practices which it claimed to be working on. It failed to provide many documents requested for the tribunal hearing which would have demonstrated how Trustees were dealing with problems raised. Either the Trustees were not addressing these issues or they did not wish the Tribunal to see how they had addressed them. Either way, this is completely unacceptable and NOT a model of good practice.

I look forward to receiving your acknowledgement of this complaint and subsequent outcome of your investigation.

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I would also like to draw to your attention that I mentioned my concerns about AVOW’s status in relation to this charter in emails to all councillors on the Executive Board and leaders of each political grouping back in August. Please will you let me know whether any of the councillors have already brought this matter to your attention and, if so, which councillors did so and what action you have already taken in this respect. I will forward the emails separately for information.

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