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Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Birmingham tax payers 'taken to the cleaners' (again)


Appesement doesn't seem a strong enough word for this madness. Story from the Sunday Mercury

GOVERNMENT cash designed to combat home-grown terrorism is being used to fund DRESSMAKING classes for African refugees.

More than £2 million in grants has been awarded to various community groups by Birmingham City Council through the Preventing Violent Extremism Pathfinder fund.

The cash has gone to mainly ethnic minority organisations who have to show they can help reduce the chance of members becoming radicalised.

But £30,000 has been given to a Digbeth-based group called Windows for Sudan, which runs activity classes for female African refugees – including dressmaking.

Last night, Birmingham Perry Barr MP Khalid Mahmood attacked the funding.

He said: “This is not what this money is supposed to be used for – helping women to make dresses in Digbeth is not going to prevent violent extremism.

“We should be finding out from the communities what is driving young men into the hands of groups that promote violence.

“The allocation of these funds definitely needs to be looked at more closely.

“It is just another example of money being wasted in Birmingham.’’

Windows for Sudan defended the scheme, claiming the cash was spent on working with women who had fled horrific violence in Africa.

“Our community is very mixed,” an organiser said. “We try to pass on the message that the community should be together and a message of tolerance.

“We tell people that they should not be joining groups that promote violence.

“Many of the women we deal with have witnessed torture and violence in their home country.

“We want to give them some peace. The activities and programmes we run can do this.”

Birmingham City Council also defended the spending, stating the group had met all the necessary criteria.

A spokesman said: “The process requires applicants to complete an application form which includes what the project entails, why it is necessary, what exactly will be delivered and when, with costings and outcomes.

“Each application is considered by an assessment panel that includes community members.

“Their recommendations are then considered by the multi-agency Preventing Violent Extremism Steering Group who make the final decision as to who receives funding.

“Windows For Sudan has gone through this open and transparent process.

“Successful applicants are required to sign a service level agreement which states they will attend monthly performance meetings where their activities are scrutinised, therefore evidencing a robust governance and accountable structure.”

The row comes just days after Conservative leader David Cameron challenged Prime Minister Gordon Brown over two schools run by the Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation.

Mr Cameron claimed the Government had given £113,000 – partly through the Pathfinder fund – to the schools, which he alleged had links to militant group Hizb ut Tahrir.

But his claims were fiercely rebutted by Education Secretary Ed Balls, who said the money was to fund free nursery places for three and four-year-olds.

Ofsted had looked into both schools after the Hizb ut Tahrir allegations were initially made and established that the claims against them were “unfounded”, Mr Balls added.
http://www.sundaymercury.net/news/midlands-news/2009/11/30/birmingham-anti-terrorism-grant-funding-dressmaking-66331-25276611/

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