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Decision to grant lease to mayor's chosen charity Flash Musicals called into question
A charity faces uncertainty over its future after councillors agreed a decision over its lease should be reviewed.
Harrow Borough Council’s call-in committee determined the decision to grant the lease of an authority owned property to Flash Musicals should be referred back to the cabinet or relevant portfolio holder.
The new lease and set of agreements, which would wipe out £72,000 owed to the council’s Housing Revenue Account, was signed by former leader and the previous cabinet member for major contracts Councillor Thaya Idaikkadar on September 16.
Last week members of both the Labour and Conservative groups called in the decision and last night it was upheld by members of the committee.
Cllr Bill Phillips, who was one of the councillors to call in the decision, said: “This has nothing to do with the work Flash Musicals do.
“I have been to several of their events and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and I have seen what they give to the community.
“The reason this decision has been called in is the process by which it was made and this causes concern.”
The organisation is one of Mayor of Harrow Nana Asante’s chosen charities for her year in office.
The meeting brought up a major dispute between the council and Flash Musicals over the payment of rent for the building in Methuen Road.
It is not clear at the time of the signing the lease five years ago whether the council agreed to waive the rent in exchange for services provided by Flash Musicals or whether the council expected the charity to pay the money itself.
Rent from the building is paid into the council’s Housing Revenue Account, which is owed £72,000.
Under the decision signed by Cllr Idaikkadar on September 16, money from the council’s general fund would be used to settle the outstanding rent in recognition of services delivered by Flash Musicals over the past five years.
Also speaking at the meeting last night were members of other voluntary sector organisations.
Gerry Devine, chairman of Harrow Community Transport raised concerns about the financial aspect.
He said: “I am not taking away anything from the great work Flash Musicals do but as an organisation we had certain standards applied to us which have not been applied in this case.”
The committee agreed the decision should be re-examined because there was inadequate consultation with stakeholders prior to the decision and a lack of evidence to base the decision on.
Also it was not proportionate to the desired outcome and there was insufficient consideration of financial advice.
The decision will now be referred back to the cabinet member for property and major contracts or the whole cabinet.
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