The controversy that has surrounded charity, Inspiring Communities Together (ICT), for a number of years has hit boiling point recently with local councillor Stephen Ord calling for an independent inquiry into its affairs and its spending of £90,000 of community money.
The funding, handed over by Salford City Council, is a legacy from the £53million failed New Deal for Communities project in Charlestown and Lower Kersal, and residents have raised concerns that the majority of the money over the years has been spent on the Chair, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and other managers of ICT, rather than community projects.
When members of its own organisation questioned what was happening they were suspended, leading to Irwell Riverside councillor, Stephen Ord, slamming ICT officials in the Salford Star: "It would appear they have acted out of greed; power grabbing control freaks; and self interest on a number of occasions..." and accused the Chief Executive and former Chair of having "an unhealthy mutually beneficial relationship...Personal greed is not too strong a word to use" (see previous Salford Star article: Salford Charity Storm – click here).
At a previous meeting of the East Salford Community Committee, which is open to all residents in the area, a member asked if there was any truth in reports that the part-time Chair and CEO of ICT had been receiving £10,000 and £30,000 respectively for their roles, and it was resolved to invite ICT to last night's meeting to provide answers.
Instead, ICT responded by letter, the tone of which angered those who attended the meeting. ICT CEO Bernadette Elder wrote: "The Trustees are very disappointed that once again the East Salford Community Committee has requested information regarding the internal workings of the organisation as this is not the first time the organisation has been asked to provide details of payment made to the Chair and CEO".
She added that "all payments are published on the Charity Commission website through ICT annual accounts as required under Charity Law... Whilst the Trustees are happy to support East Salford Community Committee and provide update information on the delivery of services and activity provided by ICT the Trustees feel that questions of payments made by the organisation are for the Board of Trustees".
The CEO concluded: "It is hoped that this will be the last time the East Salford Community Committee feel that time spent raising questions about the internal workings of one small community organisation in East Salford is a priority when there are so many other priorities which need the attention of the community."
However, Community Committee members were unhappy with the response, given that £90,000 of the `internal workings' of ICT is public money. And resolved to invite/demand that the Salford City Council commissioning officer for the money attends a future meeting to explain why, apparently, the Council has no concerns about ICT and will not launch an inquiry.
Only one out of eight local councillors actually attended last night's meeting, leaving residents who have spoken to the Salford Star believing they ducked out of facing the issues.
Meanwhile, the postponed AGM of ICT is taking place on 1st February – but before it takes place all members are being asked to renew their membership, which will only be renewed if they live in the Charlestown and Lower Kersal area; even though ICT now works and draws funding from well beyond that area.