Calls for The Anvil's annual cash grant to come under scrutiny

THE Anvil’s annual grant from Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council could be reviewed amid concern that smaller borough-funded organisations are losing out.

Of the 52 organisations that receive council cash – which range from sports clubs to charities – Anvil Arts receives up to £1.1million annually.

This amounts to 49 per cent of the £2.2m handed out by the borough council to voluntary and community organisations.

Councillors at an economic prosperity committee said the amount given to Anvil Arts, which runs The Anvil, pictured, The Haymarket, and The Forge, should be examined in more detail.

Liberal Democrat Councillor John Shaw said he wanted to see how Anvil Arts funding compared to other concert halls subsidised by local authorities.

“I would like us to be able to compare The Anvil to other concert halls elsewhere and have a handle of how The Anvil operates,” said Cllr Shaw.

“I think it would be helpful, and in the interest of council taxpayers and The Anvil, to put in some spade work from this committee and have a report that we work on in the period between now and next year that puts us in a better position to be absolutely confident that we have the balance right between funding for The Anvil and other organisations.”

The debate arose as the 12-strong committee reviewed grant funding for all borough organisations for the next two years from April.

The amount suggested for Anvil Arts was £1.09m, an eight per cent reduction on last year’s amount. Across all organisations, recommended funding has plummeted by an average of 12 per cent.

Funding for 14 frontline voluntary organisations will fall by an average of nine per cent. Basingstoke Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) is set to see a five per cent cut in funding to £154,280 while Basingstoke NeighbourCare is in line to lose 15 per cent and will get £2,550. Labour’s Cllr Colin Regan, said these services should be spared from cuts.

He added: “What worries me is all that money is going on The Anvil when we are cutting from the CAB, Victim Support, NeighbourCare – all the frontline services people need.”

Another Labour member, Cllr Sean Keating, said that some people were struggling to pay bills and stay afloat after five years of recession and “we should be ensuring that we protect frontline services that apply to people on the border level in terms of poverty”.

The final grants for 2013 and 2014 will be decided by Council next week.

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