BRADFORD Council for Mosques has defended its decision to set up a separate company to deliver £200,000 worth of Covid communications after concerns were raised during a Council meeting.

It came to light during a meeting of Bradford West Area Committee on February 25 that a company called Urban Reach Partnership CIC had been granted £200,000 of public money for Covid related communications in the district.

The community interest company - not for profit organisations which aim to improve people’s lives - was registered with Companies House by Zulfi Karim, the president of Bradford Council for Mosques in July 2020.

Chair of Bradford West Area Committee Councillor Mohammed Amran demanded a public enquiry be held into why Urban Reach was granted the cash during the meeting.

Over the weekend, the Council for Mosques released a statement explaining it had founded Urban Reach to work with people in “all corners of Bradford” and said it has been “highlighted as an exemplary model for Covid-19 communications”.

During the meeting, Jenny Cryer, assistant director to the office of the chief executive, told the committee heard how Urban Reach was one of three companies commissioned to deliver Covid communications.

When asked by Cllr Amran if that money had been given to the Council for Mosques, and who Urban Reach are, Ms Cryer said she was unable to say but the information was available on Companies House.

Cllr Amran asked: “Does anyone know this organisation? I have never heard of them.

“If they are working in Bradford does anyone know who it is?”

Cllr Sarfraz Nazir told the chair he had looked online to find the company was founded by Mr Karim in July last year.

Cllr Amran responded: “Pardon? Zulfi Karim owns that company when he refused £250,000 for the Council for Mosques?”

He then demanded to know where Director of Public Health Sarah Muckle was, who was on annual leave, adding: “She knew there was an area committee meeting and this information is crucial.

“We have just spent public funds to a company established in July which were originally given to the Council for Mosques.

“They said they couldn’t deliver it and then Mr Karim has set up a company and we’ve given it to them?

“I’m sorry I’m going to make a recommendation for a public enquiry into this and I want Public Health to explain this.”

In a statement, the Council for Mosques executive said: “Urban Reach is a CIC set up by the CFM’s executive and was developed to act as a vehicle through which the CFM can develop and deliver a communications campaign that reaches all corners of Bradford.

“The work of Urban Reach has received local, national and international coverage and has been highlighted as an exemplary model for Covid communications by the Cabinet Office and councils across the country.

“As a CIC, Urban Reach is limited by guarantee and prevented from distributing assets among its members.

“We successfully secured funding from Bradford Council after demonstrating our credentials in a competitive procurement process.”

In the Area Committee, it was decided Urban Reach must attend the next meeting and give a presentation on its work, and that Bradford Council officers examine the company’s credentials.

A Bradford Council spokesperson said: “We are aware of questions that have been raised concerning a contract to Urban Reach Partnership CIC.

“It would be inappropriate to make any comment whilst the questions are addressed.”

Zulfi Karim was contacted for comment by the Telegraph & Argus but did not respond.