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Voluntary groups set to close as grants target EU migrants
4:00pm Sunday 3rd March 2013 in News
SOUTHAMPTON’S Olympic legacy is among several areas that have seen the axe fall as sports groups and other bodies have missed out on thousands of pounds of council grant funding.
But in a move that has angered some, the council has given money to Southampton Football Club-affiliated Saints Foundation.
As the authority approved its list of grants to organisations, deputy leader Jacqui Rayment acknowledged there had been “winners and losers”, as 29 groups will receive no grant funding at all for 2013/14.
The Mount Pleasant Media Workshop, which runs drama and video projects in communities throughout the city, will close next month after its grant funding was withdrawn entirely.
And the chairman of the Solent Sea Rescue Organisation, which operates eight lifeboats and rescue units around the region, described the withdrawal of its £10,500 funding to his organisation as a “kick in the teeth” for sea safety.
The city’s Solent Skies museum has seen its funding cut, while money has been granted to projects to help migrants from EU countries move into the area.
Other funds have been diverted to green projects and helping those facing cuts in housing benefit cope with reduced incomes.
The sheer scale of the cut-backs along with how funds have been divided up has been attacked by organisations as well as cuncil opposition groups who fear political influence in the decsion-making process.
Among the groups to win significant grant money were the Environment Centre, which won £50,000, the Southampton Advice and Representation Centre, which was awarded £188,000, and Southampton Voluntary Services, which won £147,317.
A total of 65 voluntary organisations applied for a portion of the £1.699 million funding available to the council.
That pot will shrink to £1.576 million in 2014/15 and £1.441 million the following year.
The council has faced criticism on how the applications for grant money were assessed by officers.
Applications were marked on various criteria, such as if they supported the community, the environment or the arts, or contributing to tackling poverty.
Saying he felt the assessments were ‘fair’, the Cabinet member for efficiency and improvement, John Noon, said: “Some organisations didn’t take it seriously enough.
“I think they all make major contributions to the community, and it’s very difficult for me personally and I think for the rest of my colleagues.”
He said the Cabinet had decided to award grants to organisations which had not received funding before, while also ensuring it made grants to organisations able to help people hit by the impending benefit changes.
He added: “It was a very hard decision and it hit me quite hard.
“But I feel it is important that we need to bring in fresh blood and when there are not enough resources some people are going to suffer.”
Cllr Rayment said it may be in the future that many voluntary organisations would not be able to be ‘reliant’ on the council for funding.
Conservative councillor Jeremy Moulton said: “The way these grants have been allocated does not strike me as being logical.
“It smacks of political involvement, although we have been told repeatedly by officers that there was no such involvement in the decision-making process.”
EU Welcome It had originally been recommended that the group, which provides advice for people coming to Southampton from other countries in the EU, receive no funding.
But their grant allocation was amended and they will now receive £27,000 in 2014/15, £25,110 in 2014/15 and £23,352 in 2015/16.
Environment Centre The centre, which has been running since 1992, received £50,000 in the grant hand-out.In the past, it has worked on major fuel poverty projects within Hampshire, as well as managing EU projects which have brought new skills to the region, although it is currently unclear what the grant money will be spent on.
Southampton Advice and Representation Centre Council leaders are keen that advice is available to the thousands of city residents who will be affected by changes to the benefits system from April 1 onwards.
The centre, which provides advice and support in welfare and employment matters, has received a grant of £188,000.
Art Asia Trust The group describes its mission as 'communicating the rich and exciting experience of south Asian arts' to the public, and puts on the Mela Festival in Southampton.
It received £39,000 of grant funding.
Southampton Citizens' Advice Bureau The organisation, which provides free advice for people with a wide variety of financial, legal and other issues, got the biggest grant from the council - £222,088.
It was, however, significantly less than the £309,309 it received in last year's budget.
Mount Pleasant Media Workshop The group's Jenny Levitt said the organisation, which runs media and video projects and is based at Mount Pleasant Junior School, has been forced into the 'drastic decision' of closing its workshop by the withdrawal of grant funding.
She criticised the assessment of their grant application, saying there had been 'gross factual errors' made by officers, but added that organisers are looking at new ways to continue its 35-year contribution to the community in Southampton.
Southampton Diving Academy Less than a year after academy president and Southampton diver Peter Waterfield featured in the Olympics, the academy's application for a £5,000 grant was turned down.
A spokesman for the academy said: “This is hard on many of our members and inevitably there will be a negative 'legacy impact' if the funding cannot be replaced from other sources.”
Southampton Amateur Gymnastics Club The group, based at Redbridge Community School, has produced world medal-winning athletes in its four decades of work in the city.
But it was left empty-handed after its application for £40,000 of funding was rejected.
Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology The institute has carried out numerous research projects on the area's maritime history, including studies on HMS Invincible, which sunk on Dean Sand in 1758, and submerged prehistoric settlements.
But its application for £9,900 of funding was unsuccessful, meaning a festival planned for later this year may have to be downsized.
The Salvation Army, H20 Project The charity's Homelessness 2 Opportunity project runs a day-centre for homeless and vulnerable adults in the city.
But despite an application for £50,000 to help with running costs and staff salaries, the project received nothing.