Where has all the money gone?

Issue 543

PUBLISHER Danny Lockwood examines the web of organisations and individuals behind the mystery of a fundraising black hole

IN THEIR 2010 accounts filed with the Charity Commission, chairman of the Savile Town Community Association (SCTA), Khalid Aziz, explains how their main building – known as the Taleem Training and Community Centre (TTCC) – is falling apart and almost unfit for purpose.

He tells of funds and grants drying up and how the STCA’s main revenues are from booking out the hall next door and room hire, mostly from Kirklees College. The STCA showed income of less than £40,000 up to June 30th, 2010.

Indeed 2009 was lean too, with only £34,000 income and 2008 not much better, under £37,000.

But it wasn’t always that bad, with nearly £90,000 income in 2007, over £265,000 in 2006 and £205,000 in 2005. Indeed in October 2003 the STCA had been awarded £256,000 for a threeyear project to work with the Muslim community in Savile Town.

In their golden years of 2005 and 2006 they were receiving huge grants from the Tudor Trust (£37,000), the National Children’s Home charity (£84,000), Kirklees grants of £52,000 for a new kitchen and repairs, plus tens of thousands of pounds from other funding bodies.

Apart from massive wage bills as the grants poured in however, it seems the now ‘poor’ community centre has nothing to show for all that money.

It wasn’t as though it had high mortgage overheads – Kirklees gave it the building on a peppercorn rent having handed it over, fully refurbished, 10 years previously.

Part of the problem beguiling Kirklees Council auditors right now is just who they’ve been giving money to. Although the TTCC and STCA are effectively the same body, Kirklees officers have privately admitted they’ve funded both.

As for the accounts of the STCA – well, those are a problem too. Even the Charity Commissioners had to wait and see what was what, because the STCA’s accountant, SA Chopdat – Shafi Chopdat, the Laboursupporting owner of the Awaaz newspaper – filed four year’sworth of late accounts all at once in 2010. It hadn’t stopped the money rolling though.

BUT IF the SCTA’s accounts system was poor, so was their provision for a rainy day, as Khalid Aziz’s chairman’s summary pointed out in his 2010 report. 

They were not quite broke, but not far off, despite Kirklees Council – which owns the building – actually paying the group rent to use it.

However, Khalid Aziz’s bleak narrative did not paint the full picture of financial activity within the Orchard Street organisation, contained variously in the big, brickbuilt former Ashtree House Children’s Home, and the single storey hall and offices next door...

IN OCTOBER 2000 the Taleem Training and Community Centre Ltd was registered at Companies House. Its founder directors included present Labour councillor Masood Ahmed, former Labour candidate and current Dewsbury south activist Yunus Gajra (both locals to Savile Town) and Mr Gajra’s fellow STCA committee member Sajid Mahmood, who lives in Boothroyd Lane, Westtown.

Companies House documents reveal that the TTCC Ltd, formed by messrs Gajra, Mahmood and others – Coun Masood Ahmed resigned in 2003 when he decided to pursue a political career – never filed accounts. 

The company, having regularly delayed filing statutory declarations and having to appeal not to be struck off, finally applied to be dissolved in 2006 saying it had never traded. 

What happened to the various Taleem funds – indeed, whether they were clumsily but honestly included in the STCA accounts – is a mystery and one not made clearer by the centre manager Lubsir Latif, chairman Khalid Aziz, or fundraiser Sajid Mahmood this week.

Asked about the relationship between the two, the men had different, if vague, ideas.

Mr Aziz said: “The Taleem Training and Community Centre is an annexe of the management committee of both centres. He described it as a “separate user group” but couldn’t elaborate on its corporate or accounting structure, if any.

Mr Latif, who lives in Broomer St, Ravensthorpe, was equally vague, confirming only that what used to be the Savile Town Community Centre changed its name to Taleem Training and Community Centre in 2000 “to be more representative of the area” and that the names referred only to the buildings.

However when quizzed about the Taleem Youth Forum, Mr Latif said it existed “in name only” and that it effectively disbanded in 2005 with no meetings held at the TTCC since. He said he didn’t know who, if anyone, was involved with it.

His chairman Mr Aziz was more specific. 

“The Taleem Youth Forum is a separate organisation which started up as an organisation that was based there (TTCC) but is an organisation on its own.”

Asked who runs it, Mr Aziz added: “The guy’s name is Asif Patel (also a member of the STCA committee) and I think their chairman is Sajid Mahmood (another member), but we would only contact them if they were using the hall for a booking.

“But they are not based there on a regular basis. I think they used to be up at the Arena (youth club) in Westtown.”

Mr Aziz said he did not have contact details for either man – despite both being on his SCTA committee and Mr Mahmood being his fellow founder director in the Comdel fundraising company whose registered office is also the Taleem Centre.

Mr Aziz, who now works at Alpha Beds in Ravensthorpe, said Comdel was no longer a functioning business but Companies House documents show both Aziz and Mahmood still as current directors, with their annual return made up to 2012. 

Although they have kept the business active, Comdel have not filed any accounts, having claimed not to have traded since being founded in 2004.

That is despite their website (www.comdel.co.uk) boasting numerous clients – including every major Muslim institution in Dewsbury and Batley – and showing them as sports competition sponsors and receiving industry awards.

WHEN I spoke to Sajid Mahmood at his home in Westtown on Thursday, he was clear that the TTCC and STCA were “one and the same”. Mr Mahmood denied having any formal involvement with the Taleem Youth Forum, let alone being chairman, but said it still existed.

“It is still active but there’s no actual group ... they used to meet regularly at the Taleem Centre but not much the last three or four years.”

He said the Taleem’s youth group members ran playschemes “overlooked” by the main committee, but it was a separate identity with its own constitution.

Mr Mahmood couldn’t name a past chairman or treasurer saying “they come and go” or remember who might be the TYF’s bank signatories. He was surprised that it had received money as recently as 2011.

“Once they get the public sector money then they will bring the people together to run the group,” he said.

On the subject of Taleembased groups like the Shawcross Women’s Forum, Eastborough Youth Forum and Westtown Women’s Carers Group, Mr Mahmood said: “These particular groups, I remember last year or the year before that, they have had projects at the Taleem Centre. I remember because I was there once or twice.

“They did their project and that was it. It’s all to do with the funding because sometimes you don’t get the funding every year.”

Asked why women from Shaw Cross would run a group for healthy eating and exercise among ethnic women, and in Savile Town too, he replied: “There has been a lot of groups.”

He denied having been involved in applying for funds for those groups and, like his codirector Khalid Aziz, said the Comdel business was no longer active.

“It died a natural death,” he said.

He could not explain why Comdel’s annual return was made up to date at Companies House, showing it to be still active.

Mr Mahmood added: “I am no longer on the (STCA) committee ... except maybe as a coopted member. Maybe about three years I have not been going there.”

When asked if he had ever served a prison sentence, Mr Mahmood replied: “Why are you asking me that? You are getting personal now. 

“I don’t want to answer those questions.”

He said his current business is online sales.

The mystery groups:

VARIOUS Kirklees councillors, council staff, community volunteers and local people were unable to shed light on many of the groups that have won substantial lottery grants over recent years. However Taleem Centre manager Lubsir Latif said some had used their facilities and where appropriate his comments are noted below the grant details. If readers can shed any light on these groups which are doing bona fide good work in the community please contact The Press on 01924 439498 and we will be glad to set the record straight. And likewise, if any of them aren’t…

Savile Town Health Action Group

Award date: 17/12/2010. Amount: £9,495

Bid detail: The group will use funding to run training courses and workshops for women. This will enable beneficiaries to develop their business skills and set up their own social enterprises.

Lubsir Latif said this project finished in 2003. He believed funding came from SRB (Single Regeneration Budget) to address various health situations, but that the group ended when funding and other support finished.

Westtown Women’s Carers Group

Award date: 28/09/2010. Amount: £8,850

Bid detail: To provide training courses for carers in the BME community. This will enable carers to gain skills to deal with the stresses they face and improve their future training opportunities.

Lubsir Latif said this ended years ago, not sure when. Only used Taleem as a meeting venue. 

Project lasted about a year.

Shawcross Womens Forum

Award date: 17/12/2010. Amount: £9,082

Bid detail: To help local ethnic minority women access exercise classes and advice on healthy eating.

Lubsir Latif said this was the same as Westtown Women, only used Taleem centre years ago as a meeting venue. 

Note: This website (wwww.shawcrosswomensforum.org) shows it still operating at the Taleem Centre with day trips to Meadowhall and the White Rose Centre planned for late 2011.

Eastborough Youth Forum

Award date: 02/11/2010. Amount: £9,145

Bid detail: To run a business and social training programme for young people in the area. This will the develop business ideas and potential of participants.

Lubsir Latif said it only used Taleem as a meeting venue. Can’t remember when it was disbanded, but it was years ago.

Dewsbury Drugs Forum

Award date: 27/04/2009. Amount: £9,735

Bid detail: A programme of educational and sporting activities for disaffected young people from diverse backgrounds. Activities will include designing antidrugs webpages and posters.

Also: 19/2/04, £5,000 – to train specialists, hire venues, crèche faciltieies, translation costs and hire of equipment.

Also: 20/6/2005, £4,940 – to set up resource centre.

Lubsir Latif said this was set up in July 2001, possibly in partnership with the University of Central Lancashire to assess drug problems in black and ethnic minority groups. Finished years ago. 

Other groups that we’d like to hear about...

Westtown Women’s Forum

Award date: 11/03/2009. Amount: £9,750

Bid detail: A project looking at business training, practical business seminars, taster sessions in business management, legal and financial considerations.

Also: 10/3/2006, £4,940 for arts project.

Also: 28/6/04, £4,977 to develop forum.

Also: 18/4/03, £4,920 for sewing and arts project.

North Kirklees Volunteer Network

Award date: 8/12/2008. Amount: £9,650

Bid detail: Training programme for both their own management committee and volunteers from groups throughout the Dewsbury area, aimed at developing skills in management, administration, child protection, budgeting, funding techniques and marketing.

Youth Artz

Award date: 9/6/2008. Amount: £9,920

Bid detail: This art group will use an award to provide a training and development programme for volunteers and the group’s committee. Participants with learn skills in management, health and safety, child protection issues, evaluation, funding techniques and publicity. In addition, they will develop a website.

Thornhill Parents Forum

Award date: 27/03/2007. Amount: £8,164

Bid detail: Promotes social, community and personal development of parents and families. This project is to establish taster healthy cooking sessions, social activities and events promoting peer support and advice, parenting skills classes and play for children.

Thornhill Lees Youth Anti Drugs Forum

Award date: 24/12/2004. Amount: £4,875

Bid detail: The Focus Of This New Group Is To Raise Awareness Of Young People Of Drug And Alcohol Abuse. The Award Will Be Used To Run A Series Of Anti Drugs And Alcohol Workshops.

Dewsbury South Study Support Centre

Award date: 6/10/2004. Amount: £5,000

Bid Detail: The Group Provides Out Of School Study Support For Ks2 Pupils From Three Local Schools. The Award Will Be Used For Room Hire And ICT Software.

Savile Town Rehabilitation Project

Award date: 21/4/04. Amount: £4,900

Bid detail: Education, Prevention And Treatment In Substance Misuse And Drug Addiction. They Will Use The Award To Develop An AntiDrugs Video In 3 Community Languages. 

These are bona fide groups and grants.

Savile Town Community Association

Award made: 18/7/2003. Amount: £256,889

Taleem Youth Forum

Award date: 25/7/2007. Amount: £9,892

…also: 7/9/2006. £58,805 …also: 24/05/2005. £4,980

…also 5/11/2004. £55,109  …also 21/4/2004. £4,920

Savile Town Young Women’s Network

Award date: 11/03/2009. £9,845

…also  27/11/2006. £9,939

…also 6/10/2004. £4,940

And finally one close to Khalid Aziz’s heart his cricket club

Comdel Cricket Training Club

12/05/2008. £9,870

This cricket group would use an award to establish a training and development scheme in areas of child protection, sports mentoring, health and safety in sport, publicity and fundraising. In addition they will develop a website. (We can’t find the website)

Kirklees response

KIRKLEES COUNCIL was given sight of the story The Press intended to print on Wednesday night.

A spokesman said: “The council approach to funding community groups is based on buying services or training rather than giving grants. The grants outlined in the story appear to be from the Big Lottery fund.”

He added: “While in the past it was common for many councils to offer grant funding to community organisations, we have moved to a system of commissioning or funding specified activities. 

“Examples of this would be training of carers, provision of youth work, or early years childcare, and we would have a formal contract with the provider to enable us to measure the success of that funding.”


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