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SALFORD GAGGING PROTEST AT INSPIRING COMMUNITIES TOGETHER OFFICE
 

Star date: 27th January 2017

`ABUSE OF POWER AND PUBLIC FUNDS' PROTEST AT SALFORD INNOVATION FORUM

This morning, outside the Inspiring Communities Together (ICT) office at Salford Innovation Forum, local youth worker Graham Cooper staged a `gagging protest' "to highlight the abuse of power and public funds", allegations that have surrounded the charity for years.

Graham highlighted issues within ICT as a whistleblower, and has since been barred from membership of the charity which receives public funding of 90,000 a year. Next week, ICT is holding its AGM and Graham believes he's being gagged from raising `abuses' at the meeting.

Full details here...


Inspiring Communities Together
click image to enlarge

This morning, local youth worker, Graham Cooper, donned a hi-vis jacket, a gag and a sign reading `I am...Inspiring Communities Together' a reference to him being barred from membership of the charity for not living or working in the Lower Kersal and Charlestown area.

As hundreds of local residents will testify, Graham has worked in the area for years, working voluntarily at Oliver's Youth Club, the Amber Project and within residents associations, helping people to live better lives, while campaigning against injustice in the area particularly the failed, ten year 53million New Deal for Communities (NDC) project which attempted to bulldoze a whole estate in the area.

Since NDC folded, there has been 90,000 legacy money (from rents associated with the project) annually passed over to the community, which has always gone straight to an organisation, now called Inspiring Communities Together, which has formed itself into a charity.

Residents for years have complained that a large portion of this money has not reached the community but, instead has been paid to its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and a paid part-time Chair (this was stopped last year). Meanwhile, Graham blew the whistle on issues surrounding "transparency of that organisation and its governance", along with other members of ICT.

Indeed, local councillor Stephen Ord called the ICT CEO and its former Chair "power grabbing control freaks" acting "out of greed...and self interest on a number of occasions"*

Since then, both Salford City Council, which passes over the 90,000 to ICT, and the Charities Commission have refused to hold inquiries into the charity's workings. And Graham has now been barred from membership which he believes is an attempt to stop him from raising issues at the Annual General Meeting of the charity, which takes place next Wednesday, 1st February 6pm, at the Salford innovation Forum, where ICT has a free office worth 10,000 annually from the NDC legacy.

This morning, outside Salford Innovation Forum, Graham won support from both passing motorists and workers going into their offices, and handed out leaflets stating...

"I am protesting to highlight the abuse of power and public funds. I blew the whistle on irregularities in the conduct of the charity, Inspiring communities Together, referring to two individuals.

"The complaint was `investigated' by the very people I complained about. Those who complain are gagged and driven out of the organisation..."

Later, Graham told the Salford Star... "I work in the area doing outreach, working with young people, taking them on trips, doing what I've been doing for the last twelve years. They are doing this so they can avoid me turning up at the AGM and renewing my membership as is my right.

"My application forms were sent to my house without any postage on it, cost me 2" he added "In fact all correspondence has either been sent to the wrong address, spelt wrong or not even had stamps on.

"The sad thing is that people who cancelled my membership are the ones who the allegations are against; that's what I can't understand" he explained "What I also can't understand is that Salford Council are letting them get away with it. If they think this will go away they've got another think coming. This will go on until someone sees sense..."

More protests are planned both outside the Innovation Forum and outside Salford Civic Centre to highlight the issues further.

The Salford Star has contacted ICT for a comment and will adding it if and when it is received*.

See also previous related Salford Star articles...

*Salford Charity Storm As Councillor Says It's Run By `Greedy power grabbing control freaks' click here

East Salford Community Demands Answers from Council on Controversial Charity click here

*Update: 28th January: ICT has now responded... "As ICT are currently working with Graham through our own policies and procedures to try to resolve his concerns it would not be right for us to comment at this time..."

Angela Penny Barratt wrote
at 11:26:51 AM on Friday, February 3, 2017
At last someone standing up to control clicks , more cans need opening and you have my support all the way/ good on you keep up the good work.

1970's-salford wrote
at 5:27:42 AM on Friday, February 3, 2017
Graham Cooper has done more to inspire communities than any self-righteous salaried PR** who probably doesn't live anywhere near Salford anyway. He was gagged because senior members of SCC are rotten and don't like to be called on it. Let's face it, when you accrue a massive public pension whilst spending your career looking down on the wretched poor people who pay for it, like they do, you will fight tooth and nail to keep it. SC**. Careful Graham, you're looking at an Harrassment Order if they decide to use their SCC legal and friends in the local courts. Salford are behind you.

Strip her of her MBE wrote
at 10:34:17 PM on Thursday, February 2, 2017
Just wondering when Anne Marie Pickup does the right thing will she hand back her MBE or should she be stripped of this title as its supposed to be for services to the people given to upstanding pillers of the community.

Thomas Lewis wrote
at 7:29:24 AM on Thursday, February 2, 2017
Does anybody have any information regarding the ICT AGM. I am asking if the so called two Power Grabbing Control Freaks did the right and just thing and step down for the sake of the so called charity. If by any chance they did not step down they must be the most deluded narcissistic selfish people in Salford. I hope they have done the right thing. Salford Star do you have any updates. Thomas Lewis.

wrote
at 9:46:51 AM on Wednesday, February 1, 2017
NDC statistics well What a load of rubbish. I have lived in the area for 19 years and each year it has gotten worse. Feel safe in the area What a load of rubbish. 53 million down the drain. Now where is the 90,000 a year handed to ICT because the residents see nothing. So 90,000 a year on what ? Wages ? or again down the drain ? I think wages is a better bet.

wrote
at 1:26:18 AM on Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Former NDC statistics why I cannot understand is why ICT deliver these statistics and NDC was a massive failure lease they gave us the results 73% of residents are satisfied with the area as a place to live - up from 32% in 2001 81% of residents feel that their quality of life is very or fairly good 64% of residents say that they feel safe in the New Deal area - better than the average for the whole City 77% of residents are satisfied with local parks and open spaces, compared to 14% in 2002 81% of residents are satisfied with local health facilities, compared to 29% at the start of the NDC programme 41% of residents say that they feel part of the local community, compared to 22% in 2001 17% of adult residents have no qualifications, compared to 38% in 2001

Charlestown wrote
at 5:39:17 AM on Monday, January 30, 2017
The Governence and the way the membership is delt with is alarming to say the least, it's a very interesting story this is and fell this needs a radical shake up in all aspects of the organiasatoon.... Charlestown & Lower Kersal really do deserve better all around,Thanks to Graham Cooper for his honesty in all of this and standing up for all.

wrote
at 5:39:05 AM on Monday, January 30, 2017
How hardfaced are these two, don't they know about the massive uproar in the community calling for justice to get rid of them. They need to admit defeat because the uproar is getting louder and it can never go away. And remember all the community they have cheated and walked over to climb up they are going to have to pass on their way down and let's hope that is sooner rather than later. Come on SCC be honest, hold your hands up and grow some. An immediate investigation is demanded by the Salford people. As shown at Community Committee.

ex council staff wrote
at 7:43:47 AM on Sunday, January 29, 2017
The sad thing about this whole debacle is if these accusations had been made against a member of staff lower down the foodchain they would have been suspended if not sacked immediately for the name of the company. Sadly the higher up you are in an organisation the more protection you have. I worked for Salford City Council (ex union steward) and had to represent many members suspended by SCC over very minor things and saw senior managers getting away with murder. These people should be brought to justice immediately. Hands up to Graeme Cooper (a man of principles)

Thomas Lewis wrote
at 10:45:06 PM on Saturday, January 28, 2017
I admire Mr Cooper for making a stand and bringing the truth to the residents. I also admire Councillor Ord for informing us (in his own words) about the two "Power Grabbing Control Freaks" these two people have a lot to answer. They now need to think about the damage they are doing to this so called Charity and step down. Thank you Salford Star for bringing this disastrous news to our attention. Thomas Lewis.

Curtis wrote
at 1:01:13 PM on Saturday, January 28, 2017
I left working in youth and commnunity a approx 2 years ago and went into a trade (which graham cooper got me) for the simple reason nobody is investing in the people or community anymore any more being handed down is being sucked up by fat cats sat in positions of trust. The only people who are getting results and improving the community are the volunteers and voluntary organisations not the people creating a wage for themselves via deception.

wrote
at 11:51:11 AM on Friday, January 27, 2017
I live in New Broughton, I don't know very much about this orginasition well I didn't until the Community Committee meeting where everybody were screaming for answers from a former Chair and the CEO. The community were very determined to seek justice. The Councillors were called for answers also. I asked the person next to me about the charity and he said just read the Star which I did at my first opportunity. To say I was shocked is very much an understatement. I am now avidly following this story. The question to the two very dishonest people who are deceiving all must understand that the community demands answers. Why do they carry on manipulating and deceiving. They need to STOP think about the Salford residents for a change. Also looking at the background it seems things have been bad for such a long time years in fact Yet it is only now that things are moving and looking to get to the truth. My thoughts are the two people in question will leave for the good of the organisation and the Community.

Mary Ferrer wrote
at 7:43:22 AM on Friday, January 27, 2017
Do we know who sits on these committees.Another deal being done behind closed doors. Why can't people be straight

Charlestown poet wrote
at 6:40:38 AM on Friday, January 27, 2017
Graham Cooper...what a legend you really are dedicated and very sipportove of this community and I fully back him up , you say to anyone in this community, " do you know who inspiring communities is" it's likely to be no , you ask who Graham Cooper is they say yes , he is the person who is very active in this area supporting local groups and young people whenever he can Well done Graham for bringing this issue up and to Salford Star " Power back to the people "

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