Bringing Finesse to Task again

SIR – Regarding Stanborough trees and accountability. In your edition of April 15, Mike Barlow of Finesse Leisure claims the moral high ground by saying: Unfortunately Mr Marks letter fails to acknowledge Finesse s concerns regarding public safety and s

SIR - Regarding Stanborough trees and accountability.

In your edition of April 15, Mike Barlow of Finesse Leisure claims the moral high ground by saying: "Unfortunately Mr Marks' letter fails to acknowledge Finesse's concerns regarding public safety and service; likewise he fails to recognise Finesse's concerns that a phased replanting scheme could seriously compromise the future design and landscaping of the car park for future generations.

"Instead he chooses to suggest that Finesse is purely interested in commercial benefit - and again quite simply this is not the case. Finesse is a 'not for profit' company with charitable objectives; any surplus Finesse makes is reinvested for the benefit of the local community".

We suggest Mr Barlow's organisation claims of concern for health and safety is more than just a little tarnished by its failure to act immediately they were notified that the trees in Stanborough were a potential risk to the public - since August 2006, in fact!

His concern that any future design would compromise the landscaping for future generations is best described as 'far fetched'.

He then claims that Finesse Leisure (technically a 'society') is a not for profit organisation which any surplus is devoted to charity.

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Both statements are technically true, but they are not quite the full picture. Indeed, we have examined his organisation's accounts at the FSA which suggest that any claim to the moral high ground is stretching the imagination of residents too far!

We find that since its inception, Finesse Leisure has not paid anything to 'charity' and, moreover, its rules state that any surplus "shall be applied to the general reserve for the continuation and development of the society".

You and I, of course, as the general public, will be the ultimate beneficiaries....just as we are in respect of all council activities!

More to the point, the Finesse Leisure's accounts make it clear that it trades wholly on the goodwill and future support of the local authority through whom it relies to "meet its day to day working capital requirements" and further that Finesse Leisure "expects this financial support to continue for the foreseeable future".

Even to the most casual observer, it is clear that Finesse Leisure is no more than a 'quango' of the council and, as we said in our earlier letter, it has no right to be writing to the Task and Finish Working Party now considering the replanting of the trees in the north car park in Stanborough Park.

Therefore, pleading what are none-the-less 'commercial' issues as an allegedly 'disinterested' player is very clearly incorrect.

To most people, this will appear to be little more than the council, by another name, writing to itself!

Bizarre would be an appropriate description: improper even may be more apt. We are surprised the council allows this.

Meanwhile, the Task and Finish Working group which was instigated by the cabinet in order to promote a consultative approach has no further meeting date on its agenda and its chair, councillor Bromley, does not respond to emails the Welwyn Garden City Society has put to her about the legitimacy of other submissions given to this group.

As we said before, this all becomes more and more troubling to those who naively thought that all this activity was actually supposed to be open and transparent.

For Welwyn Garden City Society,

John Marks, chairman.