Harlow charity warned after failure to submit accounts to charity commission for over six months

Charity / Thu 28th Oct 2021 at 06:39am

A HARLOW charity has been warned after failing to submit its accounts to the Charity Commission for over six months.

The Environmental Conservation Co-Operative (ECCO) runs three reuse shops in Harlow, Epping and Bishops Stortford as well as Parndon Wood Nature Reserve in partnership with Harlow Council.

It was established in 1995 and is run by the chief executive (and former Labour councillor) Sean Folan and his family. Julie Folan, Molly Folan and Ezra Folan are all members of the senior management team.

ECCO’s income was close to £700,000 last year but wages account for over £380,000 with the top earner on between £60 to £70,000 a year.

Chief executive, Sean Folan explained to YH that the failure to submit the accounts was an oversight.

Mr Folan said: “Our accounts have been submitted to Companies House and you can find all our financial information there. However, due to an oversight by our accountant, they are yet to be submitted to the Charity Commission.

“I spoke to them today and they have said that this will be rectified tomorrow. The government did extend the deadline for accounts this year by three months and we did use this extra time.”

A spokesperson for the Charity Commission said: “The public expects charities to behave in a way that demonstrates the principles of charity, including by evidencing transparency and accountability around how they deliver their purpose.

“The Environmental Conservation Co-operative has not complied with its legal duty to file its accounts on time. We have contacted the charity to remind it of this responsibility.”

We also spoke to Harlow Council in order to clarify its relationship with ECCO.

A Harlow Council spokesperson said: “ECCO as a registered charity is responsible to the Charity Commission and not the council regarding its accounts. However, we have made contact with them to clarify the position.

“The nature reserve is maintained by council staff and volunteers with ECCO running the conservation centre, events and a café. For those services the council provides a small amount of funding to ECCO”.

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9 Comments for Harlow charity warned after failure to submit accounts to charity commission for over six months:

2021-10-28 09:40:32

Good work if you can get it especially when you can keep it in the family.

Alan Salsbury
2021-10-28 09:47:45

Where does the charity bit start?

Richard Adams
2021-10-28 10:00:38

ECCO Do a good job in the town. The money they raise through the shops helps pay for keeping Parndon Wood nature reserve open. Free to enter for the public. Used to be run and paid for by the council. David Cameron’s big society put paid to that so now we have to rely on charities and volunteers. Don’t knock ECCO without them the nature reserve wouldn’t exist now.

2021-10-28 10:56:33

I understood that charity shop set ups were there to raise money for charities, not to line the pockets of those who set them up or are employed by them. How can they justify only giving charities a maximum of £320,000, minus any running costs of rates, rent, electricity, heating, accountants, etc., out of an income of £700,000, only a maximum of 45% of the income. Disgraceful really! As Jarrett said, nice work if you can get it and keep it in the family. Hope they can sleep well at night knowing how much they are ripping the charities off!

Pauline S
2021-10-28 12:49:59

Richard Adams appears to ignore the legal aspect! Surprised four members of the same family run ECCO in the Harlow area, with (overall) £60,000+ for the top earner, whoever that might be. No wonder ECCO failed to commit to their legal duty. Disappointing news. Maybe HDC should reduce their grant a.s.a.p?

Pauline S
2021-10-28 16:06:43

Been into ECCO harlow today - Their secondhand paperback books are 50p whereas many charity shops have the same for 20P!

Chris Barry
2021-11-01 19:53:24

I completely agree with Richard. They do a lot of work in Harlow to keep Parndon Wood open for the public. I’m shocked that you think there is only four people working for the whole organisation.

2021-11-01 19:55:52

Easy to jump on the bandwagon with this misleading article! ECCO does great work in our town and I for one am grateful.. Issues like this are normally down to an administrative error, in this case the accountant and during a very troubling year for all, you’d think that Your Harlow would think better than trying to name and shame. Well done to whoever wrote this article, great journalism.

Don Bennet
2021-11-08 21:34:17

Your Harlow must be bored ECCO did not avoid tax unlike those others like the Amazon Boss, go on write an article about him, I dare you. Ecco employ at least 6 to 7 people who all pay taxes back into our Country, without their jobs they could be claiming benefits. You need to do some sums before posting this rubbish, the taxes these people pay versus the money they could claim for Universal credit, housing, poll tax (yes poll tax) prescriptions is outstanding. Funny that you wrote "ECCO’s income was close to £700,000 last year but wages account for over £380,000 with the top earner on between £60 to £70,000 a year." Well £60 quid ain't a lot is it.. That's a 69,940 discrepancy (and yes I have a screen shot of the original article) Over 700 people enjoyed a Halloween party last week which was organised for a cheap ticket price by Ecco, I could not get tickets as it sold out so quickly, if they are so bad then why are the folks from Harlow actually supporting them with their footfall to events? Wise up...

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