“Dysfunctional” Citizens Advice Scotland votes for change

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Organisation votes through changes to address endemic governance problems 

30th January 2017 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

One of the country’s most prominent charities, which was dubbed “dysfunctional” in an independent review, is to finally reform its structure and procedures.

Citizens Advice Scotland’s (CAS) members - made up from 61 individaul bureaux - voted to reform its governance arrangements after a damning report last year slated the way the organisation was being run.

It led to the resignation of its controversial chair Dominic Notarangelo but not before he pleaded with a faction of members to reject the recommendations of the report.

Four of CAS’s member bureaux – Bridgeton, Maryhill and Possilpark, Easterhouse and Greater Pollok – then took last-minute court action in November to prevent the vote going ahead, delaying the process until now.

The vote centred on whether to make radical constitutional changes to the charity’s board, as recommended in the review published last August.

Members have now voted overwhelmingly in support of changes designed to avoid a repetition of its well-publicised failings.

These include the appointment of an independent chair and a number of external trustees, and for these to be recruited through a competitive skills-based selection process.

In addition, a strict six-year tenure limit has been introduced as well as a mechanism for a vote of no confidence in a trustee in breach of the code of conduct.

The approval of these measures, by 90% of members, means that CAS should be in a position to have a new board in place by the end of March, meeting the timeline set out in its delivery plan to secure ongoing funding for the organisation.

Acting CAS chair Agnes Robson said: “I am delighted that the package of governance reforms proposed by the CAS board have been so warmly endorsed by the members.

These measures will ensure that CAS can move forward confidently, and with the necessary robust governance - Agnes Robson

“These measures will ensure that CAS can move forward confidently, and with the necessary robust governance framework in place, to support the citizens advice service in delivering much-needed benefits, debt and consumer advice in communities across Scotland.”

Notarangelo, who called himself “Il Padrino” – the Godfather - was said to have had a vice-like grip on the organisation.

He came in for personal criticism in the report and resigned after it was published but refused to accept the charges levelled at him.

During his tenure a revolving door of senior management came and went including its last chief executive Margaret Lynch.

The organisation recently issued a public stament regarding how Lynch was treated by the organisation. 

CAS said it accepted that there was no improper or dishonest intent in her conduct during her time as chief executive and that there was a breakdown in the relationship between her and the board.