Bradford Moor residents complain about ‘boys’ club’ group at community centre

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Members at Bradford Moor community centre who are protesting Members at Bradford Moor community centre who are protesting

A Council-owned community centre has become a “boys’ club” for a group of Bangladeshi men, according to angry residents.

People have raised concerns that Bradford Moor Community Centre in Mortimer Street has become a meeting place for a select group.

They say others are being blocked from helping to run it, with their ideas for activities turned down and membership applications delayed.

Those complaining include parents, former committee members and Bradford Moor Residents’ Association – and now MP David Ward is backing their claims.

Anwaar Fatima, a former secretary for the centre, said the current committee was a “boys’ club”, with women often excluded. She said while there was a limited programme of events, too often the community centre was lying empty.

Shahida Bi Hussain, a former treasurer, said she tried to organise a Bollywood dance exercise class for young girls but was told this was “un-Islamic”.

She said: “I do my prayers five times a day but Islam should not come into this. This is a multi-cultural street.”

Only members have a vote on who sits on the centre’s committee, so the community rallied round and filled in more than 150 membership applications. But four months after handing them in, they say they still have not been processed.

Rhiannon McNulty, treasurer of the Bradford Moor Residents’ Association, said: “We don’t want to take over, we want to work together. We want the committee to be a fair representation of the community and we want to get involved.

“There are people crying out to get involved and to be totally disregarded is an injustice.”

Mr Ward (Lib Dem, Bradford East) said he was “very unhappy” with the way residents had been treated.

He said: “Those who wanted to join the organisation to change it have been excluded.”

But Abshar Hoque, secretary of Bradford Moor Community Centre, said the committee ran a host of activities and was trying to encourage more by waiving hire charges.

He said: “The centre is not a boys’ club. The majority of our service users are actually women. Bradford Moor residents of all communities are beneficiaries of our services.”

On the claims a Bollywood dance session had been refused because it was un-Islamic, Mr Hoque said: “This is nonsense. The centre is open for all communities. In fact we are running interfaith activities to promote greater understanding amongst communities. Just last week a group hired it for a dance practice session.”

Mr Hoque said the voluntary committee had been unable to process all the membership forms and all those affected had been kept informed.

A Bradford Council spokesman said: “We have been made aware of a number of issues and we are in ongoing discussions, along with a number of other agencies, to try to resolve them.”

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