Community groups appeal against Corby Council funding cuts

Oakley Vale Community Centre - funding under threat
Oakley Vale Community Centre - funding under threat

Corby and Kettering Citizens Advice Bureau and Oakley Vale Community Centre are to lose a significant portion of their Corby Council funding.

Both organisations have appealed against decisions to cut their grants by a combined total of £10,000.

Oakley Vale Community Centre was officially opened in September 2013

Oakley Vale Community Centre was officially opened in September 2013

Members of Corby Council’s grants sub committee will meet later this week to consider the appeals.

The authority gives grants to core and devolved organisations and charities whose activities support the local community. Their funding is reviewed annually.

Last year Citizens Advice – which offers benefits, legal and financial advice for free – was given £35,000 by Corby Council but that has been reduced to £28,000 for this year - a drop of 20 per cent.

And Oakley Vale Community Association has had its funding cut from £8,330 to £5,330 – a 36 per cent drop.

The opening of Corby's new Citizens Advice Bureau in 2013

The opening of Corby's new Citizens Advice Bureau in 2013

The council says that it has reduced the grant for CBA because the charity has reserves of £260,000.

The council’s fund for ‘core’ organisations like CBA is £98,500, which is all now fully-allocated.

A letter from the chairman of CBA trustees Trish Dewar to Cllr John McGhee, chairman of the grants sub-committee, says: “We are obviously extremely disappointed at this decision and understand that the rationale for this cut is the level of reserves that we hold which is currently £260,000, a healthy amount, but still within the recommended guidelines of the Charity Commission.

“Funds are shrinking and we are unsure as to the feasibility of continuing to attract enough funding in the future to maintain the service as is in Corby.

“That said, we are 100 per cent committed in trying to achieve this but we have to be realistic in the current economic climate.

“We respectfully ask that this decision be therefore overturned given the possible unacceptable consequences.”

Oakley Vale Community Centre chairman Adam Boud has also written to the authority to appeal against the decision, which was taken in March.

It had been previously agreed that the level of funding given to the community centre would reduce on a sliding scale as it became self-sufficient.

His letter states: “We fully accept that it was our stated intent to cease being reliant on grants within three years. However, this will not be the case.”

The centre was told by Corby Council that it should allow more community use during the day, but a private nursery was already paying about £20,000 per year to use the centre so an extra toilet block would need to be built for members of the community.

But because the building work would have meant the temporary closure of the community centre, the nursery decided to find other premises in Corby and the centre is now running at a deficit.

The letter continued: “We have slowly been growing daytime bookings while running at a deficit.

“For a number of reasons we cannot now find a way to fund the extension.

“We will run at a deficit this year and our business plans show significant deficits in 2016/17 and 2017/18.

“The plans assumed that our grant would remain at £8,330 for both years.

“We ask that the grant remain at the 2015/16 level to support us as we strive to make the centre viable without a nursery school booking.”

There is still £4,463.50 in unallocated funds left in the council’s devolved grants fund for organisations like the community centre.

Members will meet tomorrow (Wednesday, July 13) to finalise their decision.