Borders animal charity under threat of closure, members told

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INCREASING red tape and pressure on directors may force a Borders animal charity to close unless members vote to employ a coordinator.

Borders Animal Welfare Association trustees sent out a proposal for employing a full-time coordinator to members last month in advance of Wednesday’s AGM in Tweedbank.

In it they say: “After much deliberation and fully considering different options –including the very real possibility of having to close the centre and the charity itself – we have decided unanimously that the best way forward is to employ a coordinator for BAWA.”

The letter tells members the organisation finds it hard to get enough directors to keep the charity running.

And the existing directors, who are also the trustees, struggle to deal with increasing amounts of new legislation.

It continues: “The situation has become more acute recently with most of the day-to-day work being done by only a couple of directors. We have now realised that by relying so much on the goodwill and huge commitment given by these directors we are failing to ensure the charity could be sustained if even one of these members left or were unable to continue.”

The directors are asking members to vote to employ the coordinator on a salary of about £28,000 a year and say they will apply for funding to help cover “some or even all” of the cost.

They need three quarters of their membership to say yes to be able to go ahead.

BAWA’s acting chairperson Julia Romanes told us yesterday: “We are not planning on closing. There is a lot of work that needs done. It is very difficult at the moment to get trustees who want to spend their time doing a lot of the routine management work.

“The charity runs quite a large business – the rescue centre, the charity shop (and a horse livery) – and we need to look at it and we think the best way forward is to employ a coordinator.

“Staying still is not an option, we have got to be moving forward. If the development post wasn’t going forward for the next year then closing the centre would have to be an option that the trustees would look at to make sure the resources of the charity are being used correctly.

“It’s only fair to say to members that if the post didn’t go ahead one of the options could be closure, but none of us would want to do that.

“So far from the votes we have had back, it’s been very positive from people.”

The association’s articles say it has to have a minimum of six directors and a maximum of nine – but the current six directors will propose on Wednesday they drop the minimum to five.

A member for six years, John Hawkins of Fletcher Court, Selkirk said: “I take the threat to the centre very seriously. These are major decisions to take.

“I am passionate about BAWA and the work they do so I don’t want to see the centre close down.”

Since opening the centre at Earlston the charity has rehomed more than 1,500 animals.

BAWA’s AGM at Tweedbank Community Centre starts at 7.30pm.