COUNCIL bosses have called on a watchdog to clarify “financial concerns” raised about a Colchester-based charity which loaned its chief executive £200,000.

Colchester Council has written to the Charity Commission, which regulates charities in England, seeking independent confirmation and clarification over financial concerns raised about Community360.

A joint letter from several public bodies which provide funding to Community360, including the city council, was sent to the charity last month.

Alongside Essex County Council, the Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board, and Braintree Council, the authority demanded assurances money it gave the organisation hadn’t been used to fund a £206,341 loan to its boss, Tracy Rudling, in the last financial year.

Gazette: Charity boss - Tracy RudlingCharity boss - Tracy Rudling (Image: Newsquest)

Colchester Council confirmed it has received a response which confirms no funding provided by any of these organisations was used to fund the loan.

Community360 also assured council bosses any payments made to Godden and Rudling Building Services, her husband’s company, followed proper procurement procedures.

The city council is now awaiting a response from the Charity Commission.

Natalie Sommers, the council’s communities boss, says the authority values its partnership with the charity and “the important services it provides to our communities”.

Gazette: Councillor - communities boss Natalie SommersCouncillor - communities boss Natalie Sommers (Image: Natalie Sommers)

She said: “Conversations are continuing with Community360 and the Charity Commission to clarify the background to the loan to its CEO and other procurement arrangements, which have caused recent public concern.

“We also recognise that public perception of the decisions made by the Community360 board is impacting how the charity is viewed.

“We look forward to greater clarity from the meeting with the charity’s board and response from the Charity Commission.”

She added the council remains committed to working on ongoing projects, like the transformation of Holy Trinity Church in the city centre, with the charity.

What does Community360 say?

A spokesman for Community360 said: “We are committed to being open and transparent about our financial decisions and we are continuing to work closely with our valued partners to offer clarifications about any concerns they might have.

“We have comprehensive due diligence and procurement processes in place to ensure that we are operating to robust regulatory standards while providing the best possible value for money.”