Unacceptable art dealing by Southampton Tories

April 22, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Posted in South East | Comments Off on Unacceptable art dealing by Southampton Tories
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The Tories say they are,

“Committed to fostering an environment in which sport, the arts, and the creative industries can flourish.”

But in Tory-run Southampton, the Council has been found by The Charity Commission to have acted in an unacceptable manner in an attempt to sell off art from the city’s collection.

The Council were looking to sell a sculpture by Rodin and a painting by Munnings from the city’s Chipperfield Bequest.

This is a fund set up by former Southampton city councillor Robert Chipperfield and funds art for public use.  Southampton has the largest public art collection outside of London.

Any sale of art from this collection must be used for the purchase of more art or provide support to the collection. The sale of art is legal but instead of looking to buy more art with the proceeds from an art gallery or at an auction, the Tory administration proposed to “buy” art the City Council already owns in other parts of the overall art collection, but outside the direct ownership of the Chipperfield Bequest.

Once done the money “raised” by the selling of art to itself would allow the Tories to use the proceeds on other things that are not constrained by the Chipperfield Bequests terms and conditions.

Local MP, Alan Whitehead, with long experience in local government finance, has criticised the council’s actions,

“’Self dealing,’ which is the term for this sort of action is very questionable indeed when undertaken by Councils and needs the support of the Attorney General for it to be allowed. It seems very questionable indeed.”

The Charity Commission found that the decisions Tory-run Southampton City Council had taken over the sale of the paintings were,

“Not acceptable due to the conflicts of interest.”

Information provided by Councillor Richard Williams, Leader of the Labour Group, Southampton City Council.

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