A CONTROVERSIAL charity which became embroiled in a long battle over a publicly-funded community centre is being wound up.

Agapao International, formerly based in Haslingden, was first questioned about its operations last July by the Charity Commission.

And, after repeated pressure from Hyndburn and Haslingden MP Graham Jones, and campaigners, the commission has revealed that trustees have agreed to dissolve Agapao.

The charity sparked anger when it attempted to sell off the former Mary Hindle Centre, in Bury Road, Haslingden, which had been purchased for the benefit of townsfolk using Lottery funding.

Charity Commission officials also questioned the acquisition of Rossendale Radio, a non-profit organisation, and the Haslingden organisation’s links with Agapao Uganda.

Mr Jones said: “In the summer, I actively encouraged a mass application of people to join Agapao with the sole intention of running the charity better.

“As far as I am aware, all the applications were turned down – nearly all from Haslingden people with years of experience in charitable work.

“I wrote to the Charity Commission about this, and also the previous list of complaints which had been investigated, and to which Agapao were told they must respond to the Charity Commission's requests.

“The charity has since handed back the former Mary Hindle Centre and has now dissolved itself.”

The centre is now home to Veterans In Communities and REAL, the Rossendale enterprise agency.

Mr Jones visited Uganda last year and said he was told that orphans, previously looked after by the charity, had been forced to fend for themselves after funding dried up.

The last accounts for the charity, filed with the commission in 2012, show- ed Agapao had income of £121,753 and spent £36,300 on ‘charitable activities’.

No-one from Agapao International was avail-able for comment.