Row erupts over £126,000 Wolverhampton temple cash
Furious trustees at Wolverhampton's largest Sikh Gurdwara have accused its under fire committee of breaching a court order by failing to pay more than £100,000 into the temple's bank account.
The Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Sedgley Street, Blakenhall, is at the centre of a power struggle between temple elders and the 25-member committee which oversees day-to-day operations.
The trustees want the committee to stand down en masse after the Charity Commission expressed concerns over how they were elected.
The row went to court last year, resulting in an order barring any withdrawals from the temple's account until the dispute had been resolved.
Now trustees say that £126,000 that should have been paid into the account between November 6 and February 21 has been left unaccounted for.
One of the trustees, Sukhbinder Singh Sandhu, said: "We simply want to know where the money has gone.
"Thousands of pounds is taken each week at the Gurdwara in donations yet for months not a penny was paid into the official account.
"This is simply not acceptable. It breaches the terms of a court order by failing to deposit the money. We are talking about a lot of money and worshippers have a right to know what has happened to it."
A copy of the court order seen by the Express & Star stipulates that all donations taken via the 'Golak' (donation box) must be deposited 'in full' to the official bank account on a weekly basis.
It also states that trustees must be provided with a full account of all donations and expenditure.
Mr Sandhu added: "We have made representations through our solicitor to obtain a detailed account of how the money has been spent."
Committee spokesman Manjit Singh said they had encountered 'enormous operational difficulties' since the bank account was frozen on October 12, but insisted that transparency had been maintained.
He added: "Volunteers managed to ensure that the bills and salaries continued to be paid, food purchased for the free 'Langar' served seven days a week, as well being able to pay for routine and emergency maintenance and building and vehicle insurances.
"All of this could not have been possible if we continued to bank the weekly donations into an account to which we had no access. We also had to clear a backlog of bounced cheques in excess of £35,000.
"As per the Gurdwara's constitution all income and expenditure is accounted for and the details are shared a month in arrears with the congregation, who have the right to question any aspect of the finances."
The temple is already involved in a legal battle with some worshippers over claims that disabled and elderly members of the congregation were being excluded from sections of the temple.
Disabled and elderly worshippers brought a legal action against the temple's ruling committee over alleged discriminatory practices.
They claim members of the congregation who are unable to observe the custom of sitting on the floor are excluded from the main prayer room and are forced to sit behind a screen in the dining room. It is thought to be the first case of its kind in the country.
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