EXCLUSIVE: Citizens Advice chair resigns after report slams his leadership

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Forced governance review slams Dominic Notarangelo's catastrophic chairmanship at Citizens Advice Scotland and demands entire board is restructured 

26th June 2016 by Robert Armour 2 Comments

Dominic Notarangelo has sensationally quit as chair of Citizens Advice Scotland after an independent review slated his leadership, TFN can exclusively reveal.

In a confidential email to all 61 Citizen Advice Bureaux, leaked to TFN, Notarangelo said he would hold a crisis meeting this week after which he would resign with “immediate effect.”

It comes after the review, commissioned by Deloitte, slammed the chair’s obsessive stranglehold on the board.

Although a draft copy has only been released to a select few, TFN understands the governance review puts forward recommendations to break-up the current structure of CAS to avoid any repetition of Notarangelo's disastrous leadership. 

Dominic Notarangelo

Dominic Notarangelo

The review has called for a root-and-branch reform, with more external independent trustees elected to the board, breaking-up the old structure where members effectively elected other members to the 13 strong board. 

During a private meeting with Jay Bevington of Deloitte, CAS vice-chair Agnes Robson and trustee Jon Turner, Noterangelo claims he was made an offer to redact criticism of his leadership from the final report if he left immediately.

However, the man who TFN sensationally revealed earlier this month calls himself Il Padrino (Italian for The Godfather), said he refused the offer, but is instead bringing forward his intended retirement to allow a successor to be brought in.

He says in the email: “I refused to accept this offer of anonymity. I was immediately aware that if I walked off with an amnesty then the members might never get to see the evidence which should be needed to take control of the association away from the members."

Citizens Advice Scotland's revolving door of chief executives

EXCLUSIVE: Citizens Advice chair resigns after report slams his leadership

Kaliani Lyle (2009)

Susan McPhee (Acting 2009-2010)

Howard McKenzie (2010 – lasted less than one week in post)

Lucy McTernan (2010-2011)

Susan McPhee and Beth Corcoran (Joint acting) (2011-2012)

Margaret Lynch 2012-2016 (Suspended October 2015; dismissed March 2016)  

Instead Notarangelo implores members to resist the recommendations in the report in an effort to continue the current structure which allowed himself and favoured trustees to control the board. 

He continues: “It is my belief that there is a clear intention on the part of DBIS to remove the members’ controlling interest in the strategic vision for the association."

Last month TFN revealed how Notarangelo's seven-year tenure at CAS had brought the organisation to the brink of collapse.

We revealed how its biggest funder, the UK government’s Department for Business, Industry and Skills (DBIS), was on the cusp of cutting CAS funding altogether after a number of senior executives were either sacked, resigned or forced out of their jobs.  

DBIS is currently withholding six-months worth of funding until the organisation implements recommendations contained within the review.

John Wilkes, chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council and one of CAS's first external trustees, gave evidence as part of the review.

He said that it was evident the "essential services and excellent work" of CABx had been compromised by poor goverance. 

Calling for the findings of the review to be made public, Wilkes told TFN: "It's sad at the very least the governance at CAS has failed its members and in turn the public.

"It is important the body is a strong, effective organisation to best represent the public it serves. That has not been happening.

"I very much welcome Notarangelo's resignation. I think now the organisation can restructure. It is clear the current board set-up is outdated. At the very least more external members are needed to steer the body away from the self-serving culture it is mired in, where factions exists and members elect members. 

"For this to happen it would be in the public interest to make the current review publicly available."     

Wilkes' call was backed by a former senior employee who said Notarangelo's disastrous leadership should never have been allowed in the first place.

They said the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) should investigate how Notarangelo was allowed to cause so much damage to the organisation.  

“There will be no tears shed at his leaving, only celebration," the former employee said. "The man had a Caligula complex and got to the point where he truly believed he was untouchable. He tried to ruin not just the careers of many of CAS’s senior employees but also their repuations.

“Finally, and for the greater good of all the hard working staff and volunteers involved with CABx in Scotland, he’s gone. Unfortunately much damage has now been done. OSCR needs to look into CAS and prevent this from happening in future to other voluntary organisations."  

A spokesperson for DBIS said: "DBIS takes its responsibility for managing public money seriously and has been concerned by the situation at Citizens Advice Scotland.

"We note the decision taken by the chair to resign in light of the findings of the independent report, and will continue working together with the Scottish Government and the organisation to make sure steps are taken to ensure robust governance.”

A spokesperson for CAS said: "CAS has not received a formal notification of the chair’s resignation at this time. We can confirm that the CAS board have received an executive summary of the findings of the Deloitte report.

"The final report is scheduled to complete in July and will be discussed and reviewed by the board at this time in line with the agreed timeline. The views expressed by Mr Notarangelo are his personal views.

"CAS is still awaiting the Deloitte report and will respond to this in due course." 

28th June 2016 by Ian Davidson

Whatever happens at CAS HQ, let us remember that, day in, day out; volunteers, supported by hard working and low paid support staff, are helping individuals seeking advice at individual CABx across Scotland. CABx are the only advice organisations which offer advice to the public on virtually every aspect of civic life; they do not set up "barriers" to public access so common in many statutory agencies these days. "Brexit" uncertainty will probably increase CABx workload as many EU citizens in Scotland will seek clarity as to their legal rights. It is essential that each CAB (run independently by a Board which comprises local people) continues to receive full support from funding agencies, politicians, the public and the media (including TFN!) to continue their good work.

28th June 2016 by Ava Muir

It should be noted that CAS serves the Board, not the other way around. The issue, therefore, is not with the structure of CAS but the way in which the Scottish Association of Citizen Advice Bureau is governed (i.e. by the Board). But, of course, one should never let the truth get in the way of a good story!