Blackpool social club quits national union in fall out over financial scandal

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A social club has broken away from a national organisation in a row over its handling of a financial scandal.

The Bloomfield Club and Institute in Bloomfield Road has quit the Workingmen’s Club and Institute Union (CIU) after being dissatisfied with its responses following a BBC Panorama programme “Ripped off? - Join the Club” which aired last December.

Mike Whelan secretary of Bloomfield Road Social Club

Mike Whelan secretary of Bloomfield Road Social Club

The programme alleged that hard-up clubs had been forced to close down after accepting debt management and restructuring services from Chesterfield-based Minotaur group of companies run by Glyn Jones. Mr Jones denied any wrongdoing.

In the programme complaints were made by 33 clubs to the BBC ranging from fees not being explained to representatives being rushed into signing complex paperwork.

The Panorama investigation also claimed Mr Jones was endorsed by the CIU.

Mike Whelan, secretary at the Bloomfield Club which was not involved in the allegations, said that three clubs in Blackpool were hit at the time including Blackpool’s Number One Club, on Bloomfield Road, Stanley Road Workingmen’s Club and The Layton Institute.

The two snooker tables in the games room of the Bloomfield Club

The two snooker tables in the games room of the Bloomfield Club

The latter two have since re-opened.

He said: “To leave the CIU is quite a big thing for a club. The Bloomfield joined in the 1930s.

“There were allegations that the CIU president, George Dawson, had introduced some of the clubs to Minotaur. The CIU investigated, but it was an internal investigation. How could they be qualified to carry out an investigation, you would need forensic accountants and lawyers to do it properly.

“We wrote to them to ask about the outcome of the investigation but they were not forthcoming. Mr Dawson was removed from his position at a special meeting in Birmingham but he later appeared in photograph in the Union journal.

The Bloomfield may have broken with tradition but it still has all you would expect from a social club

The Bloomfield may have broken with tradition but it still has all you would expect from a social club

“His name is also on a committee election form. That is an insult. It is just not appropriate. We held a special general meeting here at the end of November and put on a presentation to the members.

“They voted overwhelmingly to disaffiliate from the CIU.”

He said a man was present to make the case on behalf of the WMCIU but his views were rejected.

He added that the club had welcomed members from some of the three clubs which had to close and they were frustrated at the union’s response.

Mike Whelan secretary of Bloomfield Road Social Club

Mike Whelan secretary of Bloomfield Road Social Club

He said the club was urging others to follow suit and said that they were willing to support other clubs who felt the same way.

The Bloomfield Club has undergone changes in a bid to make it more accessible to residents in the area who now no longer need to be members.

Mike said: “We are getting football fans in before the match on Saturdays and we have installed a beer garden at the front. We want the club to be a hub for the community.”

A spokesman from the WMCIU said Mr Dawson was suspended pending a full investigation and then removed from his post. While he did try for re-election he was rebuffed and the group could not prevent him applying due to the way its laws had originally been worded.

It said a panel of three of its executive members investigated the Minotaur incident and 400 pages of evidence were produced in a nine month probe.

The spokesman said: “At no time has the CIU or any members of the National Executive on their behalf been authorised to promote, recommend or otherwise represent so-called Management Refurbishment Companies. In 2013 Minotaur applied to the National Executive for approved National Supplier status and was robustly turned down by the National Executive.

"The CIU is of course dismayed that any club should chose to leave the Union especially at a time when it has demonstrated both a willingness to act decisively and a intent to deal with any transgressions of its rules and bye-laws.

"The CIU continues to place at the forefront its ethos of helping and protecting clubs and we are proud of our achievements despite the events involving now removed NEC members.”