January 21, 2020

RSPBA says there is “no formal inquiry” by Office of Scottish Charities Register, just “a few questions”

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association issued a brief statement regarding inquiries by the Office of Scottish Charities Register (OSCR) reported by the Daily Record and The Times, two national mainstream newspapers regarding the association’s million-pound-plus headquarters refurbishment project.

The RSPBA’s statement reads: “Following the articles in the national press last weekend, the Board of Directors would like to state that the Office of Scottish Charities Register (OSCR) have confirmed that there is no formal inquiry into the RSPBA. They have a few questions and we will be providing them with all of the detailed information relating to the refurbishment of 45 Washington Street.”

But according to a spokesperson for the OSCR, the investigation is only in its preliminary stages.

According to a spokesman for the OSCR, the process takes many weeks and even months before a more detailed inquiry is deemed necessary.

“There is no formal inquiry at this stage, however as with all such inquires this may be subject to change as further information is received and assessed.” – OSCR Communications Manager Ian Grieve

“We can confirm we received a concern about the [RSPBA],” OSCR Communications Manager Ian Grieve said in response to pipes|drums’ question regarding the veracity of the reports. “The concern has been assessed and we are currently gathering and assessing further information to allow us to determine our next steps. We have stated that we have received a concern about this charity, the concern has been assessed and we are currently gathering and assessing further information to allow us to determine our next steps. There is no formal inquiry at this stage, however as with all such inquires this may be subject to change as further information is received and assessed.”

When asked how long an inquiry typically takes, Grieve said, “Unfortunately there is no set time as every instance is different. Normally, OSCR doesn’t announce when it begins an investigation. We advise the person who raised the concern with us usually within six to eight weeks if there are regulatory matters that we are taking forward with the charity, and if there is a formal inquiry we aim to conclude around 75% of cases within nine months. We generally do not comment or give updates on inquiries while they are ongoing, as this could prejudice the charity or our work, but we will write to the person who raised the concern and tell them what the outcome was, in general terms, when an inquiry concludes. In some inquiry cases, where we use our formal powers, or where there is a high level of public interest, we will publish an inquiry report on our website explaining what has happened and our actions.”

RSPBA headquarters at 45 Washington Street, Glasgow.

pipes|drums has been in contact with the person or one of the people who filed a concern with the OSCR, who spoke only on condition of anonymity: “I can tell you that the OSCR has been made aware of concerns regarding the money spent, the reserves policy, the non-open tender process. They are now reviewing this and have now concerns about the charity themselves. They will now review all this and look at launching an investigation if it is then public interest.”

In addition to being a registered charity, the RSPBA is also a limited company, and must adhere to Scottish company law and its strict guidelines for the tendering of major projects such as the recent renovation of 45 Washington Street.

The Victorian-era headquarters suffered significant damage in a fire in March 2017. Following an insurance settlement and a government grant, the RSPBA committed its entire cash reserves to the renovation, and has been left asking judges and administrators to “consider” returning their fees to help defray cost overruns.

The organization said that it had planned to renovate its premises before the 2017 fire. A Directors’ Report from the minutes of a 2016 Lothian & Borders Branch meeting stated, “A property developer has made an offer to headquarters to purchase the building but this was rejected. Headquarters have agreed a maintenance plan for their premises but are still looking for new premises.”

The RSPBA has repeatedly said that the renovation project was voted on and approved by the members at a meeting held in Glasgow, attended by relatively few member bands.

Unlike many associations, a band that is a member of the RSPBA has only one vote, and it must come from the appointed and designated band secretary. The RSPBA requires every band that wishes to compete in the UK to become a paid member of the organization, regardless whether they are a paid-up member of a non-RSPBA association.

Numbering in the dozens, non-UK-resident paid-up member bands of the RSPBA are reportedly not allowed to vote on RSPBA matters.

Every pipe band association on earth apart from the RSPBA honours the grading and membership of bands in good standing with their home association.

The RSPBA publishes a complete list and paid status of 701 bands that are or have been registered members, including those not resident in the UK.

“They are the self-elected governors of the pipe band world,” said a source who spoke on condition that their name not be used.

At publication time, the RSPBA had not responded to pipes|drums’ invitation to clarify the comments posted on the organization’s website or to provide their further perspective on the matter.



Daily Record reports RSPBA investigation by Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator


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