A troubled social enterprise has been receiving tens of thousands of pounds of support from Leeds City Council, the Yorkshire Evening Post can reveal.
As previously reported by the YEP, Create has temporarily closed its flagship restaurant on King Street in Leeds city centre after running up losses of nearly £1m in the space of less than 18 months.
Now it has emerged the firm was granted around £85,000 rate relief by the council on King Street and another premises.
Council bosses also provided £90,000 of funding for Create to lay on training and work experience for about 70 people.
The Labour-run local authority says it is looking to claw back some of that funding as the closure of the King Street restaurant means training obligations up to the end of this month have not been fully honoured.
Create shut the site in February, three months after chairman Norman Pickavance warned the business was on a “knife edge”.
Mr Pickavance said the exact plans for its reopening were still being formulated but more details were expected this week.
Coun Andrew Carter, the council’s Tory group leader, said Create’s problems showed the importance of keeping a close eye on such arrangements.
He told the YEP: “We need to be careful when we give public money to enterprises like this, however worthy they are.
“We don’t want to go back to the situation we had in the 1970s and 1980s, when the council distributed thousands upon thousands of pounds to organisations that would invariably go belly-up.”
Famed for providing work opportunities for former rough sleepers and offenders, Create opened its King Street restaurant in the summer of 2011.
The company received just under £56,000 discretionary and hardship rate relief on the restaurant site in the financial years 2011-12 and 2012-13.
It has also been granted relief of around £28,500 since the start of April 2008 on a catering work experience and training site at Moor View in Holbeck.
The council will pick up 25 per cent of the cost of the relief, with the remainder of the bill being met by central government.
Coun Keith Wakefield, leader of the council, said: “The council has an important role to play in supporting social enterprises like Create, which provide opportunities to help people turn their lives around.
“Any organisation requesting funding of this nature has to meet strict criteria.” Click here to register and have your say on the stories and issues that matter to you