Dateline: April 21st 2010: “OH LORD WON’T YOU BUY ME A MERCEDES BENZ…”

Dateline: February 5th 2014 CHARITY COMMISSION APPOINT INTERIM MANAGER FOR KICC – Move follows ‘failed investments’

Dateline: October 20th 2009


Around 1,000 people turned up at a public meeting called by campaigners wanting a cinema for Crystal Palace on Sunday afternoon.

Campaigners are fighting plans by KICC – Kingsway International Christian Centre – to turn the former Gala bingo club premises in Church Road, Upper Norwood into a church.
The event attracted politicians from all three main parties – among them Croydon North MP Malcolm Wicks (Lab) who said: “I don’t think a new church of this kind which would bring in lots of people from outside this area is what we need. It seems to me utterly absurd.

“My correspondence with the Charity Commission about this church does make me suggest that not everyone leading that church has taken a vow of poverty” he added to laughter and applause from the audience at the Queen’s hotel on Church Road.
“But they could afford to get into the Picture Palace.”
Church Road was in urgent need of revitalisation and regeneration and a 21st century Picture Palace would be the ideal way of achieving that.
Mr Wicks was applauded when he first rose to speak He told the huge audience: “That’s the first time in six months anyone has clapped me.”

He and politicians of all the three main parties were applauded as they addressed the audience via the roving mikes- but the only cheers came when Bromley council leader Cllr Stephen Carr announced himself to the audience in the Queen’s Hotel.

“I’m not going to make empty promises I can’t keep. I will take the commitment and desire and real feeling back to my colleagues, to the planning committees, to the people on Bromley council” said Cllr Carr.
The Rev Andrew Rumsey of Christ Church, Gipsy Hill, – one of the main speakers at the event – said that while thinking about the cinema campaign over the past week the old Ealing comedy ‘Passport to Pimlico’ had come to mind.
“In this film you’ll recall how residents of Pimlico declare independence from the rest of the city, blockade themselves in with stocks of gin and crisps and generally celebrate the right to determine their own lives.
“Though we still have to associate with the rest of London one of the best things about this cinema campaign has been to galvanise our sense of place here in Crystal Palace.
“It’s absolutely vital in an area which is on so many boundaries. If we don’t speak up for the Triangle no–one else will. All too often we are the forgotten corner of someone else’s borough.”
He told the audience that last Friday his band the Effras were playing upstairs at the Brixton Ritzy and looking out over a town with ample supplies of gin and crisps.
“We had a great sneak preview of what a good evening out in Crystal Palace might involve at some point in the future.”
Earlier campaign chairman Annabel Sidney said the campaign was about bringing the community together. She emphasised the campaign was a pro-cinema one, not an anti-church campaign.
“We would say to KICC you really thought you were buying a bingo hall but you purchased a cinema” She reiterated the campaign’s promise to help KICC find a more suitable home.
The other main speaker was Claire Binns of City Screen, the cinema chain which owns the Brixton Ritzy and were outbid by KICC for the former cinema in Church Road. She told the audience City Screen owned cinemas in “Norwich and Greenwich, Exeter, Aberdeen and everywhere in between.”

Lambeth council made one of the quickest U-turns in any council’s history in the wake of Sunday’s meeting.
Anger rose when Cllr Andrew Gibson (Con Gipsy Hill), an ardent supporter of the campaign, told the meeting he had some bad news – Lambeth council would not be objecting to the proposed change of use of 25 Church Road.

“We are deeply furious about this. If you live in Lambeth write to Mr Brown at planning. Triangle issues are Lambeth issues, We are going to see if we can get this reversed.”

A flurry of emails including one from Cllr Gibson went to Lambeth’s chief planner Les Brown – which he responded to the same day – followed.
In a follow-up e-mail on Monday a Lambeth council officer told Cllr Gibson that while the notice said ‘no objection’, if Bromley council wanted to grant planning permission they should limit the size of the congregation and the number of services.Lambeth attached 45 copies of objection letters from Lambeth residents “Given the above I think a very clear message has been sent to Bromley council regarding the local opposition to the proposal.” Cllr Gibson was told.
One campaign committee member wrote to Mr Brown on Monday pointing out that cinema campaigners had offered to help KICC find an alternative site. If Lambeth didn’t mind traffic problems, parking problems and killing off Upper Norwood as a district centre – which is what campaigners say will happen if KICC get permission for change of use – then he and a colleague planned to scour commercial property agents websites for likely sites for KICC across Lambeth borough.
And as an afterthought they would suggest KICC approach the owners of the Fridge in Brixton – right next to Lambeth town hall.Another committee member highlighted how Lambeth fought off plans by a Pentecostal church to buy the Brixton Academy back in 1995.
On Tuesday morning the campaigner had an email from Mr Brown  -: “In light of further concerns now received from residents, ward members and the chair of Lambeth’s planning applications committee, officers will make a further submission to Bromley supporting the retention of the cinema and raising concerns regarding parking. Kind regards, Les Brown”

Dateline: December 18th 2009


CONTROVERSIAL plans to turn a former cinema in Crystal Palace into a church have been rejected by a Bromley council planning committee – on the chairman’s casting vote.

Kingsway International Christian Centre had wanted to turn the former cinema and bingo hall in Church Road into a church after buying the building from Gala bingo hall. The move has sparked a massive groundswell of public opposition from residents and traders – the vast majority of whom want the building turned back into a cinema.

But the future of the building could now be uncertain after a letter from KICC’s agents for the application stated that if planning permission was not forthcoming the building would just be allowed to fall into disrepair.

At the council’s plans sub-committee meeting on Thursday December 17th Cllr Sarah Phillips (Con. Clock House), moving the motion for refusal, said keeping the building as D2 use was about how Crystal Palace would remain in the future. There was not a shortage of D1 uses – churches – in the area.

“Keeping D2 use will be good for business and cultural reasons and the viability of the future of Crystal Palace” she said.

Cllr John Getgood (Lab, Penge and Cator) said the Triangle area of Crystal Palace “was a special community all of its own with small artisan businesses developing very, very nicely – and that needs to be supported.

“There’s nothing wrong with having another church. The problem is this doesn’t come from that community. It’s being imposed on that community. If it was already in the area I could see a good reason for allowing it. This is a wandering tribe looking for a home.”

Cllr Getgood, who recalled that in the late 1950s he used to go to Saturday cinema in the same building, said parking caused by the arrival of the church would be intolerable for people living in the area.

Cllr Alexa Michael (Con Bromley Common and Keston) said she did not find the officers’ report to committee about the application particularly helpful. “A lot seems to mention things that aren’t planning grounds. There seems to be a great demand for leisure. Cinemas have to offer multiplexes if they are to survive economically.

“The chances are they would draw in people from outside the area. Any type of use will draw in fairly large numbers. I’m not convinced the reasons for refusal are strong.” She asked for a further report and to arrange for a members site visit.

Cllr Peter Dean (Con. Kelsey and Eden Park) said he had been about to make some of the points made by Cllr Michael. “It’s not a great report. We’re not looking at an application for a cinema.”

He said he could understand the concerns voiced by Crystal Palace Cllr Tom Papworth (Lib Dem) who gave a videoed address to the committee.

“But I have a concern that if this application is refused residents will end up with exactly what they don’t want. This could be won on appeal. The two main reasons for refusal are that a major entertainment facility is going to be lost. You’re replacing a bingo hall with a church – how contentious is that?

“They are going to operate a great number of community facilities. On the face of it that’s not such a bad idea if you don’t know the area.”

On traffic and parking he said that if there was one area in ‘our borough’ that was used to handling large numbers of parking it was the Crystal Palace area. The traffic report prepared by the applicant actually put the parking element in perspective, he said

“The grounds for refusal are dubious. I’d like more thought to go into this.” he added.

Cllr Getgood, responding, said: “The church community facilities do not come out of that community – they are being imposed on them. There are occasional large entertainments in Crystal Palace park but they are not twice a day on Sunday. This is a regular imposition on the people of the area and it’s not fair for them to put up with that.”

Councillors voted three – three with committee chairman Cllr Gordon Jenkins (Con. Bickley) voting for the application to be refused. Cllr Jenkins then used his casting vote, saying: “I’m not one of those who bends with the wind. The application is refused.” Cllr Dean asked for his vote against to be recorded.

Dateline: 21st April 2010 “OH LORD WON’T YOU BUY ME A MERCEDES BENZ…”

Worshippers at a thriving church that attracts some of the biggest congregations in Europe have seen their prayers answered in the shape of a new fleet of Mercedes-Benz minibuses.

Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC) in north-east London has just taken delivery from Heathrow dealer Rygor Commercials of 30 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Traveliners, to help bring thousands of people to its services every Sunday.

All of the factory-built 15-seaters are fitted with the innovative ECO-Start system – this saves fuel and reduces emissions by automatically cutting the engine whenever the vehicle is stationary for more than three seconds and then re-starts it as soon as the clutch pedal is depressed.

The fleet is the subject of a four-year contract hire deal with Mercedes-Benz CharterWay, the manufacturer’s in-house commercial vehicle finance division.

KICC recently moved out of its former premises in Hackney, east London, to make way for the London 2012 Olympic development. Services are currently held in a temporary home at Hoe Street, Walthamstow, while the management committee searches for a suitable site to create a new, purpose-built church and conference centre complex.

The Sprinters are used primarily as ‘shuttle buses’ – as part of its green travel initiative, the church encourages its members to travel to services by public transport, thus minimising the impact on traffic congestion and exhaust emissions; the vehicles then collect them from a series of pick-up points near local underground stations and bus stops.

The church attracts so many worshippers that six services every Sunday are needed to accommodate them all, and the shuttle buses run continually from 7am until 7.30pm. The new Mercedes-Benz vehicles have replaced the church’s previous fleet, which was by another manufacturer.

KICC Property & Facilities Manager Kayode Falebita said: “We had several key criteria for our new fleet. Obviously affordability was important, but so were fuel efficiency, low emissions and the safety and comfort of our volunteer drivers and their passengers.

“We drew up a shortlist of three vehicles and although we expected the Sprinter to be more expensive, we were pleasantly surprised at the competitiveness of the contract rates quoted by Mercedes-Benz CharterWay. And when our senior managers took a close look at demonstrator units supplied by the three manufacturers, the Sprinter quickly emerged as a clear favourite

“The standard safety systems are highly impressive, the seating is very comfortable for both drivers and passengers, and the vehicles have a real quality feel. The ECO-Start system is another big plus – it helps to reduce our costs and our impact on the local and global environment.” (Source: Mercedes-Benz press release headed: Mercedes-Benz Sprinters join the KICC congregation)

Dateline: February 5th 2014


Charity Commission statement in full:

Charity Commission says that the interim manager who has been appointed to undertake a limited role, will not replace the current trustees of Kingsway International Christian Centre.

The Charity Commission, the regulator of charities in England and Wales has appointed an Interim Manager (IM) to the charity Kingsway International Christian Centre (registered charity number 1102114). The regulator has been investigating the charity since 2011, in connection with concerns about the charity’s governance and internal financial controls in relation to investments the charity made.

The Commission’s concerns revolve around the decision in 2009 and 2010 by the charity’s former board of trustees to allow Mr Richard Rufus, who was then a trustee, to invest £5m of the charity’s assets in the financial markets through potentially high risk speculative foreign exchange trades, without independent professional advice. The investments ultimately failed. Mr Rufus resigned as a trustee in May 2011.

During the inquiry, the current board of trustees were required and did take action to seek the return of the funds. £6.9million was due to be returned to the charity under Mr Rufus’s Individual Voluntary Arrangement1 (“IVA”) . The Commission kept its inquiry open to monitor and ensure the funds were repaid. However, Mr Rufus was declared bankrupt in October 2013 and it became clear the funds would not be fully returned.

The role of the interim manager is to assess whether the charity’s former board of trustees carry personal liability for the amounts lost to the charity as a result of the unsuccessful investments and if so whether the charity should seek restitution for the losses. The interim manager has been appointed to work alongside the charity’s current trustees, the majority of which were appointed after the problems first came to light. The trustees will continue to have responsibility for the charity’s day-to-day management. The appointed interim manager is Helen Harvie of Barlow Robbins LLP.

The regulator confirms that the charity’s trustees have been co-operating throughout the inquiry.

The Commission will publish a report once its inquiry has concluded. The report will detail what issues the inquiry looked at, what actions were undertaken as part of the inquiry and what the outcomes were. Reports of previous inquiries by the Commission are available on its website.

Notes to Editors

1. The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales. See for further information.

2. Our mission is to be the independent registrar and regulator of charities in England and Wales, acting in the public’s interest, to ensure that:

Charities know what they have to do
The public know what charities do
Charities are held to account

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