Group’s finances start to recover from funds’ theft

FINANCES are on the up at the Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade, but there is still some way to go.

The business group was thrown into turmoil last year when it discovered that former Treasurer Mark Trill had virtually wiped out its funds.

Trill appeared at Newcastle Crown Court in December and admitted stealing more than £19,000 from the group. He was given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years, ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work and was electronically tagged for a curfew until April 30.

The chamber is still trying to make up the financial loss, but at a meeting last week member Mavis Lawley presented the annual accounts and reported that the outlook is getting brighter.

“I was actually surprised by these accounts because I didn’t expect them to be very good, but the fact that we didn’t contribute to the Christmas lights and got £2,500 from Northumbrian Water towards Morpeth In Bloom has made a really big difference,” she said.

“Unfortunately, we are still blighted by the thefts of money by our previous Treasurer — last year it was £14,500 and this year it is just over £4,000 — but hopefully that is closed now.”

Ms Lawley advised the chamber to put a value on its intellectual property, such as the More In Morpeth brand, and said there should be a strategy to use its stock of More In Morpeth bags.

Treasurer David Lodge said: “It looks as if over the year there is a value for the chamber of nearly £14,000, but the reality is there are cash assets of just over £5,000, which is still extremely low when compared to previous years. It is really important that the events that are delivered this year do contribute to the accounts of the chamber.”

The chamber thanked Ms Lawley and Tait Walker for work on the accounts.