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Manager Stephen Byer refused to confirm rumours
THE troubled Whitchurch Silk Mill appears to have new trustees after complex internal wrangling.
As previously reported in The Gazette , the mill stopped producing silk in December last year, after nearly 200 years. Rumours were circulating that several of the trustees had quit, but Stephen Bryer, manager at the mill in Winchester Street, refused to confirm what the position was.
Now, Whitchurch borough councillor Keith Watts, who has been a trustee since 2007, has confirmed that four of the trustees, including chairman Howard Birtwistle, did resign on July 20. He said two new trustees, Sue Washington and Geoff Hide, whose family owned and ran the mill for 70 years, were elected as trustees by the board, prior to the resignations.
Phil Turner, treasurer of Hampshire Buildings Preservation Trust, which owns the freehold, has also joined the trustees, and it is expected that Hampshire County Council will also nominate a trustee.
Cllr Watts said the three new trustees each subsequently received a letter from Mr Bryer, saying: “I must make it clear that you are not a trustee.” Cllr Watts said he was also informed, via the borough council, that he should have stood down in 2009 as his term had ended.
Cllr Watts said: “Following these extraordinary letters, I am pleased to say that the legal advisers of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and Hamp-shire Building Preservation Trust are confident that I am still a trustee, that my three new colleagues will be trustees when the necessary documents have been signed, and that the three former trustees whose resignations were confirmed in writing are not now members of the board.”
Cllr Watts said this still leaves three vacancies – including the job of finance director. He added: “This is all frustrating for those of us who are ready to put a lot of work into making the mill a successful visitor attraction.”
Mr Bryer was not available to comment.