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Strange saga of council charity with just one donor

A CHARITY set up by Glasgow City Council to combat hardship has been criticised after it was revealed that all of its income was down to just one Labour donor.

Of the £253,000 ploughed into the Lord Provost Goodwill Fund in two years, £250,000 came from Scottish refrigeration tycoon Sir Willie Haughey. The remaining sum was bank interest.

Opposition councillors yesterday criticised the organisation's failure to create a broad base of donors and for its reliance of one benefactor.

The fund was set up in 2010 when former Labour councillor Bob Winter was Lord Provost.

Over the next two years the charity, which aims to relieve poverty, advance citizenship and tackle ill-health, gave out just £13,108. Grants included help for a woman who was near the end of her life and support for a Malawi-related project.

The council's social work services and education departments were given the task of identifying beneficiaries of the fund.

Initial trustees included Winter, two council officials and Haughey.

Haughey and Winter have since stepped down, with current Lord Provost Sadie Docherty and the businessman's wife, Susan, now listed as trustees.

In the first financial year, 2010-11, Haughey donated £250,000 to the organisation. Other than £1370 in bank interest, his cash was the only donation in that period.

At the time, Haughey said: "I am delighted to be involved in this new charitable fund. While I am happy to donate some of my own money, I will be contacting some of Glasgow's other well-known business people and urging them to donate as well.

In 2011-12, not a single penny was donated to the charity, with £2222 accruing as bank interest.

Haughey remained the charity's sole donor and directly responsible for over 98% of its total income.

Accounts for the third financial year are being prepared.

In 2012, a review of the fund was undertaken to ensure it was "maximising opportunities for promoting and distributing awards of the funds to appropriate individuals and groups".

Haughey, who was born in the Gorbals, runs City Refrigeration Holdings. The firm, which employs around 12,000 staff, reported a 23% rise in profits in 2012 and posted a turnover of around £397 million.

The businessman was knighted in the 2012 Birthday Honours and, earlier this month, it was announced that he was going to be a peer in the House of Lords. He has been one of Scottish Labour's key business supporters and donors.

Graeme Hendry, SNP group leader on the city council, said: "It is good of Sir Willie Haughey to make such large donations to the fund. While I am sure the fund has helped many Glaswegians it is disappointing to hear it is so reliant on one donor."

David Meikle, a Tory councillor in Glasgow, said: "It is a very interesting revelation that only one donation has been received by this fund, especially as it is from such a high-profile Labour backer.

"It is disappointing that a broader base of donors has not been found for such an apparent charity."

A council spokesman said: "The fund is still very young, with healthy balances, so there has not yet been any pressing need to top it up. The trustees would, however, obviously be very happy to talk to anyone who wishes to support the fund."

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