WALTHAM FOREST: Anti-terrorism cash spent on ice cream (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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WALTHAM FOREST: Anti-terrorism cash spent on ice cream
MONEY intended for fighting Muslim extremism in Waltham Forest was spent on ice cream and dinners, it has emerged.
The Guardian has obtained documents which show that the Leytonstone Muslim Community Centre (LMCC) used thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ cash on food.
The organisation, which was little-known locally and not registered as a charity or company, was paid to run programmes to create positive Muslim role models following the high-profile anti-terrorism arrests in 2006.
The brief was to create 30 such young muslim leaders, but only half completed the programme.
Documents detailing expenses claims totalling £4000 for three events, including an Eid celebration at the Ivory mansion banqueting suite in Leytonstone High Road, reveal the organisation charged taxpayers £75 for ice cream and £1024 for catering and entertainment.
This is despite the LMCC making no mention of such activities in its original bid document.
The council’s contract with the organisation also stated that such expenditure on ‘entertaining’ and events of a ‘exclusively religious nature’ was not permitted.
A council evaluation of the LMCC’s work said that while it held three, ‘well-attended’ community days, no mention was made of extremism during these events.
It was also found that the organisation had ‘no specific expertise in the Prevent agenda’ and projects relied on the use of expensive freelance trainers ‘offering little value for money’.
The review states that ten schools were supposed to have been visited as part of the programme, but only three were.
The LMCC, which is based above a solicitors in Leytonstone High Road, was recently established as a charity with the aim of tackling poverty and promoting equality and religious tolerance.
In its original applications to the council for funding, the organisation stated it had close links to former council leader, and current cabinet member, Clyde Loakes.
The Active Change Foundation, based in Lea bridge Road, Leyton, also received money to help fight extremism despite at the time being classified as a “maximum risk company” in financial terms.
The pilot aspects of these programmes were paid for using money from the Better Neighbourhoods Initiative (BNI).
Investigations have revealed that rules to prevent fraud were regularly ignored when the council commissioned BNI projects.
Council spending on its One Community campaign, also launched in the wake of the 2006 anti-terrorism arrests, has also been called into question, with little evidence that contracts were properly procured or monitored.
A Government committee in 2010 expressed concern that local authorities were left with too much responsibility for deciding how projects to tackle extremism were managed.
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