THE new Mayor of High Wycombe is be quizzed after choosing a charity to benefit from public cash over fears it favours Freemasons.

Councillor Julie Pritchard will be asked by town charter trustees to clarify where money raised for The Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys by the Mayor’s Appeal will go.

She told the Bucks Free Press cash could go to “anybody” with families in hardship – but its own guidance appears to contradict this. It said the “primary aim” was to help Masons.

The Mayor’s Appeal holds events and takes donations and last year raised £17,500 for South Bucks Hospice.

Questions have been raised by Liberal Democrat charter trustees, a ceremonial body for the town.

Councillor Trevor Snaith, to quiz Cllr Pritchard at the trustees’ next meeting on June 2, said: “I will need assurances that all the funds raised are finding their way to everybody that could benefit and not just a few.”

Members want to know the charity’s terms of reference and where it has spent cash in the county, he said.

Party colleague Steve Guy said: “There are other communities in more need than the children of Freemasons.

“They make perfectly clear that their aims and objectives are to help the children of Freemasons. I am not comfortable with that.”

And Lib Dem councillor Ray Farmer said: “I am very disappointed that she hasn’t gone for a local charity.

“Freemasons do a lot of charity work – I wouldn’t have thought they need any support from the Mayor.”

But Cllr Pritchard last night defended the move. She said: “It will go to anybody who can evidence hardship through the breakdown of the family.

“It is not the case that they say “we come first and everybody else follows”.

There were “misconceptions” about the group, the second largest worldwide donator to charity, she said. Cllr Prichard said she had become involved through friends.

Yet the trust’s own guidance (click here) states that families in “poverty or financial hardship” must have a “Masonic connection”.

If not the trust only gives support to other national charities, it says. Yet its website says this cash is not being given out as its “primary aim” is to help Masons is taking up funds.

It says “At present, the Trust’s resources are sufficient only to support its primary beneficiaries and its existing projects.

“It is not able to consider applications for new non-Masonic grants at this time.”

Cllr Pritchard was backed by last year’s Mayor, Councillor Paul Lambourne, who raised £17,500 for the South Bucks Hospice.

He said: “Any member can choose any charity that they like to support.”

And John Jackson, the county lodge’s information officer, said: “I would strongly recommend any councillors with any concerns to talk to the trust to allay any fears that they may have.”

He said: “Money is awarded depending on what applications come in, whether they are Masonic or non-Masonic.”

The national charity’s website says “the main work of the trust is to assist Masonic families” (see link, below).

It adds: “Most grants can be made only to children and young people who are, or have been, supported by a Freemason under the English constitution.”

Under “non-Masonic” support it lists a charity, Lifelite, which aims to raise £600,000 a year for hospices.

Cllr Pritchard will split the Mayor’s Appeal with the Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance.

After being sworn in on Saturday she told more than 100 guests at the Mayor’s reception that the charity was not just for children of Freemasons.