Charity business moves to reassure customers

Axminster’s Recycling Shop bosses stress their operation is an open book - and they give as much as they can to worthy causes

THE owners of The Recycling Shop in Axminster - which donates a percentage of its takings to nominated charities - have moved to reassure customers their operation is totally transparent.

Tony Chipperfield, who runs the business in Castle Hill, with trading partner Sue Moore, stressed today: “We have always given as much as we can - not as little as we can get away with.”

The pledge comes in the wake of apparent concerns raised at the town council about the way money is allocated to worthy causes.

Although they were not named, Mr Chipperfield and Ms Moore are sure their business was the main target of concerns expressed when the council went into secret session last month to discuss the operation of local charity shops.

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As a result of the discussions, the town council called for an investigation into how some Axminster shops, which claim to donate to charity, operate.

The call came amid allegations that, in some cases, it is not made clear how much money worthy causes receive from the shop revenues.

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In a report of the debate, just made public, the council says: “Councillor Paul Hayward said he had been approached by members of the public who had expressed concerns regarding the status of the various different, apparently charitable, shops in the town.

“Cllr Hayward said that as far as he was aware five of the shops were owned or rented and run by registered charities but two were commercial retail outlets which claimed to make donations from their takings to charities, in one case charities nominated by clients.

“It was not known whether a defined percentage of the takings was donated to charities in these instances and this was a concern to members of the public.”

The report also said that concerns had been raised as to whether donations to charities were used as the basis for seeking business rate relief. “Following discussion the town clerk was instructed to pass these concerns on to the relevant authorities at district and county level.”

At this week’s town council meeting Cllr Hayward said he had now visited The Recycling Shop and learned more about its operations. He said Mr Chipperfield had filled him in about the work they did for the community and East Devon and the donations his shop made to various charities.

“Mr Chipperfield was concerned the council had got the wrong idea and I had a chat with him and it was made clear to me how the business operates,” he said. “It operates in an altruistic and philanthropic manner but it is sometimes not possible to make specific donations to specific charities.”

Cllr Hayward said all charity shops in the town had costs to meet from their donations before contributions to the worthy causes could be made.

Town clerk Hilary Kirkcaldie said all councillors had now received an email from Mr Chipperfield explaining how the business was run. “We thank him for enlightening us,” she said.

l In its publicity material The Recycling Shop says it helps to raise money for charity by recycling household goods.

“Trade and donate makes sure all your unwanted items do not go to waste,” it says. “Thanks to your recycling, we are able to help raise money for the charities of your choice.

“It couldn’t be easier. If you have any unwanted usable items you no longer need and would like to help raise money for your chosen charity then please call us. A percentage of all funds raised from recycling is donated to your chosen charity.”

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