Tory councillor resigns after sikh temple controversy

Jeet Bains, the Conservative councillor for Coulsdon West, has resigned his position as the chairman of the Croydon gurdwara, the sikh temple on St James’s Road, following complaints about his personal conduct and the financial management of the organisation.

Jeet Bains: conduct in question

Jeet Bains: conduct in question

Bains was reported to police over an incident at the temple at the end of August when it was alleged he had behaved in a threatening and racist manner. The police were called to the gurdwara again this month when Bains’s committee officers were determining who could, and could not, attend a general meeting of the temple.

The police opted to take no further action after speaking to Bains about the August incident.

Bains’s resignation follows further complaints, to the Charity Commission and to the chairman of the Conservative party, Grant Shapps, at a reception for local Tories held in Croydon on Monday evening.

The Charity Commission is noted for being a toothless watchdog: only following a complaint from members of the gurdwara is it now asking the temple’s committee about its handling of the purchase of a £425,000 house. That the Bains-led temple committee had failed to hold an annual meeting for more than five years or in that time file approved accounts to the Commission – as charity law requires annually – had gone apparently unnoticed and unremarked by the Charity Commission.

The Commission has written to the temple’s trustees following “…a complaint relating to Siri Guru Singh Sabha Croydon and the decision-making process of its trustees in the plans to purchase a new property”.

Ever so politely, the Commission says it has “reminded” the trustees that “any expenses more than £10,000 shall require the approval of the general body”. The house purchase, many worshippers claim, has never been approved by a general meeting, and they say that no vote was held at the general meeting held on October 18. Estate agents have confirmed that the gurdwara had entered into the purchase arrangements before the general meeting was held.

“There is something untoward in this whole transaction,” said Guneet Singh, a member of the congregation and opposing the purchase. “They are not being transparent and it raises suspicions. Something really isn’t right.”

If the Charity Commission finds against the gurdwara’s management, its sanctions can include the loss of charitable status, and so the organisation would lose significant tax advantages.

Bains has not responded to Inside Croydon’s request for comment.

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