Thursday, 13 Jun 2024

Captain Tom Moore charity to be shut down as pictures of huge spa unearthed

Captain Tom Moore’s charity could be wound down, a family lawyer has told an appeal hearing against the demolition of a controversial spa block at the home of the war veteran’s daughter.

Barrister Scott Stemp said the charity, set up in May 2020 after Captain Tom’s fundraising efforts in the first Covid lockdown, is “unlikely to exist” in future.

The foundation is currently the subject of an investigation by the charity watchdog, amid concerns about its management and independence from Sir Tom’s family.

The Charity Commission opened a case into the foundation shortly after the 100-year-old died in 2021 and launched its inquiry in June last year.

An indication of the foundation’s future has today (October 17) been given at a planning appeal hearing in the council chamber of Central Bedfordshire Council.

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Mr Stemp, representing Captain Tom’s daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore and her husband Colin, said: “It’s not news to anybody that the (Captain Tom) foundation, it seems, is to be closed down following an investigation by the Charity Commission.”

He added that in future the foundation was “unlikely to exist”. The commission’s investigation is ongoing and no findings have been published yet.

Sir Tom raised £38.9million for the NHS, including Gift Aid, by walking 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday at the height of the first national Covid-19 lockdown in April 2020.

He was knighted by the late Queen Elizabeth II during a unique open-air ceremony at Windsor Castle in summer of that year. He died in February 2021.

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Last month, the charity’s latest accounts stated the commission’s intervention into the foundation had had a “massive adverse impact” on fundraising.

The charity stated its work is “entirely reliant on donations” and while its total income had been just over £1m for the 2021 financial year, that fell to £402,854 from June 2021 to November 2022.

This summer, the foundation stopped taking money from donors after council chiefs ordered the unauthorised spa pool block to be demolished.

The appeal hearing on Tuesday – attended by Ms Ingram-Moore, her husband and their son Benji – was told the facility could be used for rehabilitation sessions for the elderly.

Ms Ingram-Moore and her husband applied for planning permission in 2021 and an L-shaped building was given the green light, but the planning authority refused a subsequent retrospective application in 2022 for a larger C-shaped building containing a spa po.

Central Bedfordshire Council said in July an enforcement notice requiring the demolition of the “now-unauthorised building” was issued and a subsequent appeal against that notice was made to the Planning Inspectorate.

At the hearing, chartered surveyor James Paynter, speaking for the Ingram-Moore family, said the scheme had “evolved” to include the spa pool and that it has “the opportunity to offer rehabilitation sessions for elderly people in the area”.

A document supporting the initial planning application for an L-shaped building said it was to be used partly “in connection with the Captain Tom Foundation and its charitable objectives”.

Around half a dozen neighbours attended the meeting with one arguing the building is “49 percent bigger than what was consented” and is close to his property, adding: “It’s very brutal.”

In a written appeal statement, Mr Ingram-Moore said the heights of the approved and built buildings “are the same”.

A written decision is to be published at a later date, weeks after the one-day hearing.

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