FOLLOWING the announcement last week by the directors of KEHRA that they were ceasing to trade a number of questions have been raised as to the relationship between the organisation and Kirklees Council. I would like to clarify the position as best I can.
KEHRA is the current trading name of Kirklees Race Equality Council (KREC). In one form or another the organisation has existed in Kirklees for many years and has carried out very important work in supporting good race relations, responding to racial harassment and developing youth work and other projects.
KREC has been one of the organisations which the council has supported through financial allocations over a number of years.
Such allocations are made against clear expectations, related to the council’s policies and objectives. The allocations are agreed annually and are subject to monitoring reports from the organisation.
The council is saddened by the current situation and is concerned over the impact of the loss of services.
It is working to identify ways the impact can be minimised on the community and on the shared commitment to furthering the equalities, good community relations and the human rights agenda.
The announcement by KREC/KEHRA has resulted in questions being raised over the appointment of Mr Hayes, originally to undertake consultancy work for KREC and then subsequently as chief executive of KREC/KEHRA.
KREC is a wholly independent organisation which makes its own appointments. The council was involved in advising it to appoint a consultant on a fixed-term contract to review its future focus and structure. Although the appointment was made by KREC a Kirklees Council officer did attend the selection process between individuals put forward for consideration by a national agency responsible for interim placements. The officer was not part of the decision-making process.
KREC/KEHRA subsequently decided to make the individual concerned its permanent chief executive. This decision was taken without the council’s knowledge and caused us some concern. We pursued the issue with the KREC/KEHRA board, whose members assured us that it had acted in accordance with its own recruitment procedures and with the advice of an independent solicitor specialising in employment issues.
Our concerns were not fully allayed and we received representations from other individuals who were becoming concerned over the direction of the organisation.
Partly in response to these concerns we continued to seek clarity from KREC/KEHRA over its ability to meet the expectations of the council and partners. The council suspended the release of quarterly funding payments from the beginning of the 2008/9 financial year whilst these concerns were being pursued.
Due to the nature of the current allegations the police are carrying out a criminal investigation. It is also likely that insolvency practitioners will be appointed and will carry out an independent analysis of the financial position and liabilities as well as the current govern-ance arrangements.
The council will assist with these enquiries wherever it can. Meanwhile it is working to find alternative ways to take forward the important work which KREC/KEHRA has been able to carry out in the past, to the benefit of the Kirklees community.
Chief executive, Kirklees Council