Local news for Wapping E1W and Tower Hamlets

Tower Hamlet’s dodgy grants – a Wapping story

Update 13 May 2015: Below is a response from Tower Hamlets Council to this story which was received yesterday.

“I have been asked to advise you that no grant agreements were signed, and no payments were made to the organisation named in your piece from the council’s Main Stream Grants programme (2012-15).

 The organisation in question actually applied for £13,845 for their project; (the image you are using is from a report that was presented to cabinet as part of the council’s consideration process on 3 October, 2012).

The organisation notified the council that they would not be operating from the premises that you visited before any grant agreement was finalised and no grant agreements were signed.”

All well and good and it’s nice to know that the council is finally acting in a transparent manner. Main point of the story as originally published was to illustrate how it has often been impossible to find out the most basic details of any grant application or the organisation that funds were granted to. Hopefully this has now changed for the better. 

As the extent of the corruption within Lutfur Rahman’s Tower Hamlets First administration becomes apparent residents of St. Katharine’s and Wapping will be interested in an odd little story that involves Matilda House in St. Katharine’s Way.

Analysis of grants records and old fashioned knocking on doors by Love Wapping shows that in the 2012 funding round the Hermitage Mother Tongue and Study Support Centre was granted £3,750 of Main Stream Grants (MSG) for a Mother Tongue Bengali Project and £5,000 for a Study Support project.

Exterior of 46 Matilda House

Exterior of 46 Matilda House

No problem – apart from the fact that the Hermitage Mother Tongue Project does not exist.

Tower Hamlets Council grant application records for Hermitage Mother Tongue Project.

Tower Hamlets Council grant application records for Hermitage Mother Tongue Project.

As can be seen from the records above this organisation applied for £3,750 for the Study Support project but the amount awarded by Tower Hamlets Council was increased to £5,000.

This is not unusual for Tower Hamlets council.

Grant summary documents give an address of 46 Matilda House, St Katherine’s Way, E1W 1LG for the Hermitage Mother Tongue and Study Support Centre.

This address is empty.

It has not been used for at least 12 months according to local residents, probably longer.

A peak through the letterbox (see photo below) confirms this and there was no sign of any activity on the numerous occasions that Love Wapping knocked on the door over a period of eight months.

Knock knock! Anyone home? Obviously not - a peek through the letterbox at 46 Matilda House.

Knock knock! Anyone home? Obviously not – a peek through the letterbox at 46 Matilda House.

 

Other Council financial records show regular payments to ‘Hermitage Mother Tongue and Study Support’ during 2011 and 2012 totalling £7,642.00.

So what is the Hermitage Mother Tongue Centre? Does it exist? What does it do? And where is the grant money now?

Repeated searches of the general web and specific business and charity information sites has revealed nothing.

  • Opencorporates – no trace
  • Opencharities – no trace
  • Charity Commission – no trace
  • Companies House – no trace
  • 192.com – no trace
  • No website
  • No email
  • No phone number listed
  • A physical check of the electoral roll shows no one is registered to vote at 46 Matilda House.

What are Mother Tongue lessons?

According to local sources it seems that the term ‘Mother Tongue lessons’ is often just used for, well, anything. Need some cash? Apply to the council for funding to provide ‘Mother Tongue lessons’. Job done.

It seems that grants money for ‘Mother Tongue lessons’ is commonly used for extra religious education. It is not known if this is true with regards to Hermitage Mother Tongue Centre.

It is known that at some point the organisation existed and did carry out some education work but not recently.

46 Matilda House

46 Matilda House

But there’s more

This document, IGT FOI 03 6245 Mother Tongue and study support grants (PDF) is a response to a FOI request by Ted Jeory and shows Hermitage Mother Tongue Centre receiving £3,000 of grants for Mother Tongue classes every year since 2006/7, a total of £18,570.

Here’s the summary data:

Financial Year Organisation Name Amount
2006 – 2007 Hermitage Mother Tongue and Study Support Centre £3,090
2007 – 2008 Hermitage Mother Tongue and Study Support Centre £3,090
2008 – 2009 Hermitage Mother Tongue and Study Support Centre £3,090
2009 – 2010 Hermitage Mother Tongue and Study Support Centre £3,100
2010 – 2011 Hermitage Mother Tongue and Study Support Centre £3,100
2011 – 2012 Hermitage Mother Tongue and Study Support Centre £3,100
Total £18,570

Data Source: http://www.towerhamletsfoi.org.uk/documents/6245/IGT_FOI_03_ 6245 – Mother Tongue grants.pdf
(http://bit.ly/1GQqRGm)

And some more

Another document MSG and CMF Funded Projects 2009–10.pdf  (PDF) lists the Hermitage Mother Tongue Centre twice.

• Hermitage Mother Tongue and Study Support Centre Mother Tongue Bengali Project Community Languages £3,100

• Hermitage Mother Tongue and Study Support Centre Supplementary Study Support Project Study Support £1,500

A little more

Another document on the Council’s website is DC 270309a.xls which is a response to a FOI request for information on “How much total grant money was allocated to community/voluntary organizations by your council each year between 1998 and 2009”.

This shows records of Mainstream Grants to Hermitage Mother Tongue between 2007/08 and 2008/09 of £5,590 on both occasions giving a total of £11,180.

Just one eensy weensy little bit more

And what would a LW data story be without looking at the ever popular Tower Hamlets Council Payments to Suppliers records? Here’s the data:

directorate service division responsible_unit expense_type payment_date net_amount
Childrens Services Children & Education Services All Edn Line Services YCL Small Grants Voluntary Associations 2011-01-14 775
Childrens Services Children & Education Services All Edn Line Services YCL Small Grants Voluntary Associations 2011-04-13 775
Childrens Services Children & Education Services All Edn Line Services YCL Small Grants Voluntary Associations 2011-04-13 775
Childrens Services Children & Education Services Non-school Funding YCL Small Grants Voluntary Associations 2011-05-09 750
Childrens Services Children & Education Services Non-school Funding YCL Small Grants Voluntary Associations 2011-07-27 775
Childrens Services Children & Education Services Non-school Funding YCL Small Grants Voluntary Associations 2011-10-26 750
Childrens Services Children & Education Services Non-school Funding YCL Small Grants Voluntary Associations 2011-10-26 775
Childrens Services Children & Education Services Non-school Funding YCL Small Grants Voluntary Associations 2012-02-01 775
Childrens Services Children & Education Services Non-school Funding YCL Small Grants Voluntary Associations 2012-04-25 775
Childrens Services Children & Education Services Non-school Funding YCL Small Grants Voluntary Associations 2012-05-23 717
£7,642

Data Source: Tower Hamlets Countil Payments to suppliers http://bit.ly/1fo2iNe

As you can see this gives a total of £7,642.00 between 2011 and 2012

Careful does it

Please do not jump to conclusions and just add up all the numbers quoted so far. Some of these records may be duplicates. However this requires more analysis and to be honest there are much bigger fish to fry. Of which more soon.

Matilda House, St Katharine's Way, E1W

Matilda House, St Katharine’s Way, E1W

Not Matilda House Community Day Nursery

LW-HMTP-10LW would also like to make it absolutely clear that Hermitage Mother Tongue and Study Support Centre has no connection whatsoever with the Ofsted approved Matilda House Community Day Nursery which is directly opposite it. Eight metres opposite to be exact.

But there is a need to mention this exceptionally valuable community organisation.

They also applied for grant funding from Tower Hamlets Council.

The Matilda House Nursery were proposing “Nursery provision. 51 weeks a year. 8 am till 6 pm x 5 days a week”.

No need for any translation of what that means. Sounds pretty useful.

Computer says no

Their application (EYS-35) was refused. The reason given was “Whilst there was much to commend this bid, given the focus on early years education provision, no award has been recommended.” Here is the relevant part of the document:

EYS-35 Matilda Community Day Nursery funding application entry

EYS-35 Matilda Community Day Nursery funding application entry

 

Something for nothing, nothing for something

So the organisation which does not seem to exist with an address just eight metres away gets nearly £9,000 for doing nothing while the popular, busy, well run Matilda House Community Day Nursery opposite gets nothing for doing a lot.

Eight metres separates two organisations. One exists but is refused funding, the other does not exist and is funded.

Eight metres separates two organisations. One exists but is refused funding, the other does not exist and is funded.

We did contact the Matilda House Community Day Nursery some time ago but they declined to comment. You can hardly blame them.

Through a contact we also tried to contact the Hermitage Mother Tongue and Study Support Centre but no reply.

The Father Ted approach

LW is not in a position to decide if anything illegal or even just plain dodgy is going on here. Like lots of third-sector organisations in our borough the Hermitage Mother Tongue and Study Support Centre seems to have just had lots of money thrown at them.

We do wonder where the money is though.

As Father Ted would say “The money was just resting in my account”. 

Which is cool because if the money is resting in someone’s account then maybe the borough could have it back please?

What is of concern of course is how it is possible for council grant money to be given to organisations which are impossible to identify. No wonder people begin to ask questions.

46 Matilda House

Another issue – how is it that a nice little property like 46 Matilda House is allowed to remain empty for so long?

Is this a Tower Hamlets Homes (THH) property? If it is then THH must know who or what the Hermitage Mother Tongue Project is and where they are.

Anyone in Matilda House know? Tell the rest of us.

Update: 19:28

Thanks to @eastendwestend for reminding LW that the Commissioners have now marked Hermitage Mother Tongue ‘projects’ as Red and so no more cash. 

Reason given? 

“The organisation does not have premises from which to operate. There has been no response to our letter dated 9/8/14 to elicit further information.”

LW should say that we first started looking at this story last year but other stories got in the way and then the Election Petition got in the way. But at least this is now in the public domain. 

 

 

 

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There Are 4 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Ali says:

    I am certain i know who the culprits are who took money each year, pretending to use it for the benefit of the deprived when actually they were using it for there own lavish lifestyles. People like them, the con artists are the ones that tarnish the real “good people”. I am ashamed to say that bengalis running these centers have one motive only, which is “how do i screw the bigger person so i can make money for myself?”. I hope these people get caught and taught a valuable lesson by prosecuting them for fraud and most of all embarrass them publicly so they never do it again.

    • Mark Baynes says:

      Hi Ali, thanks very much for your comment, much appreciated. cheers, Mark

  2. sultana Begum says:

    You refer to Hermitage mother tongue classes receiving regular funds since 2006 – may i remind you that he was elected as a leader of the Labour Party in early 2009, and his current administration are those from the post 2009 era. In 2006 Michael Keith under labour ran the council, this was followed by Denise jones. Sot it seems they funded this project for 3 years before under mr Rahman’s administration it continued to be funded. When the project applied for funds in 2006, they would have had to provide evidence that they were a bonafide organisation s they continued to receive funds for 3years before continuing under mr rahmans admnistration. Its not possible to check all the organisations across the borough – but i would level the blame as the previous administration not just at mr rahmans seems like some mix up happened. But also bear in mind sometime stress place are run by volunteers, and it will be evenings or sundays, or sometimes from another premise. I dont know though.

    • Mark Baynes says:

      Yes as you point out this organisation has been receiving regular funds since 2006 which predates the Rahman administration and as i point out at some point it did something. I disagree that ‘it is not possible to check all the organisations across the borough’ – any organisation requesting public funds must accept audit as part of the deal. We have to many poor and hungry children in this borough to squander cash like this.

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