Statement from Save Our NHS in Kent
Monday 15th April 2019
1) Our finances are, and have always been fully in order. The requests to see our accounts appeared for the first time on the evening of 10th April - the claim that they have been requested before is totally false (and defamatory).
2) Now that a demand has been made to see our accounts, we will of course make them public. We are an unpaid group of volunteers running a community organisation, therefore we do need to be given time to respond to requests. Currently we are incredibly busy focusing on two urgent and important campaigns; we do not want to draw our energies away from that, and therefore will produce this information in as timely a manner as possible considering our current workload - the fight to save the stroke unit cannot be put to one side; it is time critical and requires all of our focus.
3) Our funds are used to pay mainly for printing costs and hiring halls, other costs may include legal advice, advertising and office supplies. This will all be available when we make our accounts public.
4) We have been questioned repeatedly in the last few days about whether / when we are launching a judicial review. We have kept the public updated on this, it's been covered in social media posts and we held a meeting in Ramsgate specifically to explain what stage we were at on March 28th. We have said all along that we intend to launch a Judicial Review but we wanted to be sure that the grounds we are applying on are as strong as possible. Expect an announcement imminently.
5) In relation to Judicial Reviews, there is a deadline of three months from the date of the decision. As the decision was made on 14th February the deadline falls on May 14th. It is important to move as fast as possible, but it is also important that grounds are as secure as possible to ensure it doesn’t fall at the first hurdle. SONIK are moving as fast as possible, whilst making sure that the best possible grounds are established and all the formalities have been addressed properly to ensure the success of this review.
6) The solicitor SONIK are using is Leigh Day; they are experts in Judicial Review, and they fought and won the Lewisham case and are involved in cases similar to ours. We are being represented by Rowan Smith.
7) SONIK started off under the wing of TTUC (Thanet Trade Union Council) and ran financials through it. This arrangement was temporary and avoided us having to use the accounts of individual members. The SONIK bank account was set up on July 2018 because our campaign was ramping up at that time and therefore we started fundraising in a more sustained way to cover costs. There is nothing unusual about getting support of this kind from a local union organisation. SONIK has a Unity bank account: Unity Trust Bank plc provides specialist banking services to trade unions, charities and other organisations that operate in the not-for-profit sector. Unity Trust Bank agreed to open a bank account for us after seeing we had a proper constitution.
8) SONIK is not a business or a charity, and therefore isn't obliged to publish regular accounts. SONIK is simply a club / society and has no legal status - we are not incorporated and do not come under the Charities Commission or the FCA. Given that we have no obligation to publish accounts it is extraordinary that we have been asked to in an accusatory way that suggests we have failed to comply with proper conduct. Financial matters are for the members to decide, within the law. Most community campaigning groups operate in this way unless they choose to adopt charity status.
9) We will be publishing the details of expenditure from our online fundraiser set upon 15th April last year (2018). The fundraiser accumulated £665 in funds. We will also be getting our accounts audited by a third party and will publish that information when available.
10) SONIK paid for legal advice from HG Law (Harrison Grant) last year, and a letter was sent to the responsible parties within the NHS, explaining our intention to mount a Judicial Review. The costs for this were £600 (inc VAT). The effect of this letter was that the NHS instantly became more compliant with all of our requests for information, presumably fearing legal action for not complying with the rules for proper consultation. The information we acquired has allowed us to hone our legal case against them and expose the flaws in their plans to the public, to the decision making members of the JCCCG and to the councillors on the Kent HOSC and the Medway HOSC. It was money very well spent. We are now proceeding with solicitors Leigh Day who are experts in the field and won the Lewisham case. Please bear with us.