Royal British Legion denies 'funny business' after claim it would pay off Hayling councillor with festival donations
A CHARITY has denied claims a councillor would be paid a share of its donations following a Facebook spat.
The Royal British Legion’s branch on Hayling Island has said ‘no funny business is going on’ after it was struck off the list of beneficiaries for the Inn on the Beach’s Armed Forces-themed Bygone Festival this weekend.
In a since-deleted Facebook rant, branch chairman Paul McIntyre slammed the decision before the venue publicly hit back and claimed it was taken over concerns cash would go ‘into someone’s personal account’.
The row, potentially seen by the Hayling Island Facebook group’s 19,000 members, has now been branded a ‘big misunderstanding’ after being traced back to an email Mr McIntyre sent to the Inn on the Beach.
In the message sent at 1.51pm on Wednesday, seen by The News, he said the branch had ‘transferred money direct into Issy’s account’.
Branch treasurer James Griffin said this was intended to refer to reimbursement made to Hayling West councillor Issy Scott after she personally bought a banner and collection boxes for an RBL-backed stall at a local event in June, not proceeds from Bygone Festival.
‘For the past year we have been working hard to get the branch back into the community and getting people involved in the RBL again,’ said Mr McIntyre. ‘All that hard work could've been destroyed because of these comments.
‘We are bound by very strict RBL regulations and we have followed the code to the letter.’
Mr McIntyre said money from Bygone Festival could have been split four ways, including among Cllr Scott’s new youth initiative, Wave, new seating for St Mary’s Church and a fresh paint job for the island's army cadet unit.
But Alex Lewis, the Inn on the Beach’s events manager, said she was forced to pull the plug after six months of ‘poor communication’ from the Hayling RBL in finalising this.
Proceeds will now go to the Royal British Legion's Poppy Appeal and Defence Medical Welfare Services.
‘If the communication was much better, of course we would support the Hayling RBL in the future,' she said.
‘But only if it is very clearly set out where the money is going.’
On the Facebook row, she added: ‘We would have never made a public comment if it was not for what was put there originally.
‘Social media is not the way to sort things out and this is a clear example of that.’
A spokeswoman for the central Royal British Legion said it was ‘unable to comment’ on the relationship between Hayling RBL and the Inn on the Beach.