Rehoming centre for horses heading for the knacker’s yard?
Trouble is brewing at the upper paddock of the Whitchurch-based animal rescue charity HorseWorld, where Managing Director MARK ‘NOT THAT ONE’ OWEN has been making some curious financial decisions.
In recent months Owen has been galloping around pleading with politicians and planners for the green light to build a new visitor attraction in the Green Belt, flying in the face of local people in Stockwood and Whitchurch unhappy at this enormous intrusion into protected land.
Pleading the charity’s poverty has been Owen’s strongest card. He’s using the massive losses built up since he took over in 2008 (half a million pounds lost each year, with rumours the latest financial figures will show HorseWorld is nearly ONE MILLION QUID in the red) as the main reason why he needs to sell charity land to build houses and a new aircraft hangar-sized horse performance attraction. The way he sells it is that income from this will be the only way to overcome the enormous deficit – which, of course, was built up whilst he’s been in charge.
And it’s not just half-witted councillors or second-string planning officers he’s busy chatting up: Owen is also noted for his habit of hiring expensive consultants – splashing out £525 A DAY on one to advise the charity on, err, fundraising.
Another consultant’s weekly fee of £750 seems cheap by comparison – till you consider they were brought in to run a fund-raising auction that LOST THOUSANDS.
Meanwhile, as Owen schmoozes his way round the city’s decision-makers wearing his best long face and begging for special consideration, he somehow forgets to mention that his allegedly hard-pressed charity has just given him the keys to a BRAND-NEW SHINY £28,000 BLACK AUDI.
Cars are a recurring theme for Owen. When first appointed to the job he made a curious decision to promote himself in The Independent On Sunday’s finance pages – trumpeting how he’d DOWNGRADED FROM A PORSCHE (to a mere Land Rover Discovery).
He thought this would make him some sort of people’s champion, but predictably the stunt SPECTACULARLY BACKFIRED, hacking off dozens of the charity’s staff, many of whom were (and are) surviving on minimum wage.
Owen started at HorseWorld five years ago on a salary published as £60k – a figure that’s since risen not uncomfortably.
And what do charity donors get for their paid-more-than-an-MP MD? Well over £2.5 million shipped, which has HAEMORRHAGED HORSEWORLD’S RESERVES, carefully built up over sixty years from legacies and donations of people who love the idea of a horse rescue charity – and now shrunk by over half in just five years.
Meanwhile, while his new car’s engine purrs, HorseWorld staff complain they are forbidden by Owen – for financial reasons, of course – from doing the very work they’re employed to do: rescuing animals in need. That costs money, of course. Something that HorseWorld pleads it has none of.