One of my photos

Broadfield Community Centre

June 25th, 2007 · Posted by Skuds in Politics · No Comments · Politics

I have been clearing out the huge pile of old newspapers for recycling, and having a quick look through them before throwing them out. In an old copy of the Crawley News I found a story which annoyed me at the time (May 30th) but for some reason I never actually wrote anything about it.

The story is about the funding of the Broadfield Youth and Community Centre, and how the council’s grant is, yet again, lower than what was applied for and lower than the previous year. I can remember how it was always the same when I was treasurer for the place so I can understand how everyone associated with the place feels about it.

Broadfield North councillor Adam G Brown (Con) says about it:

Broadfield is a deprived area and the community centre is one of the few places in the neighbourhood which brings people together.

And I can’t argue with that, though I reckon things will get worse before they get better – if they ever do, thanks to his party’s fixation on low council tax. When they come to setting their budgets I have always predicted that grants to voluntary organisations is likely to be a soft target for cuts, and during the election the Tories got very upset when I suggested the areas they might look to save money – even if they were only the same areas where they suggested cuts would occur if the transfer of council housing failed to take place.

Anyway, Adam is not going to change his party’s general direction, but there is something he can do: start pushing for BYCC to be removed from the voluntary grants system, along with a couple of other strategically important recipients like the CAB. He could also try to get the whole distribution of voluntary grants removed from councillors’ hands.

There is little chance of success – I know because I tried both myself – but both measures are even more important now that the overall fund for grants is at risk. The community centre should have a budget ring-fenced from other organisations and tied to a service level agreement.

But it was not Adam who got me annoyed in this story, it was Janet Treagus, the council’s spokeswoman (actually a press officer who provides quotes on everything) who said:

We don’t expect to fund everything a voluntary organisation does. They have to raise some funds themselves.

But hold on. In every other neighbourhood of the town the council provides community centres, which the council funds without looking for donations, sponsorship and other fundraising. If the BYCC did not exist, Crawley Borough Council would have to provide a community centre, and it would cost a lot more than the £24,486 which was given in a grant, and would be a much worse service as it would not provide a full-time centre manager to deal with the public.

So don’t give us all that bollocks about it being a charity as if it is something optional and in addition to council-provided services: it is a facility provided by the local churches, supported by individuals within Broadfield to provide a service on behalf of the council.

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