OSCR recommends RSPBA “enhances level of transparency,” will not hold inquiry
The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) has confirmed that it will not proceed with a formal inquiry of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, but has recommended to the association that it “promotes an enhanced level of transparency in all decisions made.”
The decision came after the OSCR’s response to concerns raised about the RSPBA’s handling of its £1-million-plus renovation of its Victorian-era headquarters over the last two years.
“The OSCR has reviewed the requested information provided by the charity and determined that charity trustees have demonstrated decisions were made in the best interests of the charity. However, we have recommended that the charity review the recent media interest and promote an enhanced level of transparency in all decisions made,” said OSCR Director of Communications Ian Grieve, in response to a request to confirm a statement published by the RSPBA.
“This morning, we received a communication from OSCR advising that they had reviewed the requested information provided by the RSPBA, and determined that the charity trustees (Board of Directors) have demonstrated that decisions were made in the best interests of the charity, and as a result, have decided that there is no further action to be taken and they are closing the file,” the RSPBA statement read, perhaps ironically making no mention of the OSCR’s call for improved transparency.
At publication time, the RSPBA’s chief executive Ian Embelton had not responded to a request by pipes|drums for comment about the OSCR decision not to move ahead with an inquiry or the OSCR’s recommendation to improve transparency.
“I am delighted to read that Scotland’s charities trust OSCR has confirmed that the RSPBA Board of Directors and management team are working in the best interests of the company,” said RSPBA official, judge and five-time World Championship-winning pipe-major Robert Mathieson in a social media comment. “The newly upgraded building is probably the biggest and bravest financial decision the Board of Directors have made in the history of our association. This bold move has given the members a fantastic asset that should be extensively used by the members. Let’s make sure we use it for the benefit of piping and drumming world wide.”
The matter arose following concerns raised about the lack of clarity by more than one member at the annual general meeting of the RSPBA’s Northern Ireland branch on November 30th.
The inquiry and the fractious situation between the association and its members caught the attention of the UK national media, with reporters from both The Times and Daily Record newspapers filing stories.
Embelton made a verbal commitment at the RSPBANI meeting to provide thorough documentation on the bidding and contract process of the renovation, but the association has so far produced nothing that is readily accessible to members.
Following the OSCR’s recommendation to the association to improve its transparency, it is not known whether the RSPBA will provide to members or the general public its full correspondence with the OSCR, including all of the documents that it provided to the organization, or the full documentation of the renovation project.
After receiving an insurance settlement for the 2017 fire at its headquarters, the RSPBA used the entirety of its savings and government grants to cover costs, which are still not completely paid. Embelton had acknowledged that the association would have to take future payments from bidders for some or all of its five major championship competitions to complete payment for the project.
The association had asked judges and administrators to consider giving back some or all of their fees from the World Solo Drumming Championship to help cover the ongoing costs of furniture for the new premises.
The building project is the largest for a member-based piping and drumming association in history.
Critics of the building project have suggested that all or part of the RSPBA finances could have been committed to other projects, or even given to struggling member bands in the form of grants for new equipment or travel.
First prize for 2019 World Champions Inveraray & District was £1500. Prize money for the World Solo Drumming Championship totals zero.
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