Rochdale Council refuses to disclose PVE funded groups

Robust discussion from the audience on the evening

By Majed Iqbal- A new report issued by the Tax payer’s alliance has singled out Rochdale Council, after it refused to disclose key information on how the Prevention for Violent Extremism (PVE) money had been distributed in Rochdale.

The Tax payer’s alliance, an independent body who research where tax payers money is being spent by the government, rubbished the Government “Prevent” strategy which was designed to tackle ‘radicalisation’ as part of efforts in its counter terrorism strategy. The Government promised £45 million to local authorities over three years as PVE grants, allocated to those Councils with Muslim populations of more than 5 per cent.

The new report by the Taxpayers’ Alliance used the Freedom of Information requests to compile the data, listing all the organisations that had received PVE (Prevention of Violent Extremism) funding in the last two years by their local councils.

Rochdale Council was the only council who refused to release the Information on spending, by citing that there would be ‘Commercial Detriment to a Third Party’. An appeal was submitted to provide the reasoning behind the decision in early May 2009. There has been no response since despite contact being made on several occasions.

In 2007/08, qualifying Councils received money through the ‘Pathfinder’ fund, and each local authority was then able to devise its own plan for how to use the money of which £12 million has so far been given out by local authorities to fund community groups through Prevent projects.

However, the Prevent strategy since its inception has been hugely questioned by the Muslim Community who are the key target of these plans. Many have argued that Terrorism has no religion and attacks in Western countries are a product of Western Foreign policy. Therefore it is International politics and agendas of nations and not the re-defining of Islam in Europe which needs to be addressed.

Muslims in Rochdale have challenged these plans when information was leaked early 2008 that Rochdale was allocated £100,000 of PVE money.

In community meetings, local Muslim representatives and leaders objected to the plans citing them as counter productive and non-conducive to community relations in the borough and that an atmosphere of suspicion and spying was being promoted.

The issuing of this report may have bought embarrassment to some Muslim groups and Mosques receiving PVE who had initially been in denial about government funding and had aired they were independent organisations with their own agendas.

Who these organisations are in Rochdale is still yet to be disclosed.

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