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‘Village green’ bids discussed

Organisations forced to lay off workers

CHARITIES £2m OUT OF POCKET

BY ALEX CAMPBELL

alex.campbell@thesentinel.co.uk

CHARITIES and voluntary groups across North Staffordshire and South Cheshire have had more than £2 million of funding cut by councils. New figures reveal some local authorities have sharply reduced their direct grants to grass roots organisations as part of their own multi-million pound spending cuts. Stoke-on-Trent City Council paid more than £1.27 million to charities in 2009 but provided just £661,000 this year. Staffordshire County Council has cut its contributions by £78,000 since 2009 to £532,000. It has also reduced its funding for various voluntary youth schemes by £175,000. The authority has also pulled £100,000 funding for Newpak, a factory employing disabled workers, severing a long-term agreement and leaving it under threat of closure. Many charities have been forced to lay off staff and cut services as council funding reductions have been matched by reductions from other sources, includ-

ing the European Social Fund and central Government. The city council said it was switching to commissioning services from charities – paying them for specific work when it is needed – but many could miss out. The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) in Stoke-on-Trent has lost 12 workers and reduced some services. Its funding from the city council has fallen from £418,000 in 2008/09 to £306,500 this year. Chief executive Simon Harris, pictured, said: “We’re trying to do the same with less, but it is difficult. “The demand for our services has been very high so the cuts generally have really come at the wrong time.” “ Voluntary Action Stoke-onTrent, which provides consultation and support for other charities across North Staffordshire, has seen its funding from the city council fall from almost £100,000 two years ago to £50,000. The organisation has been forced to make 12 redundancies and introduce charges for some of its services. Figures show New-

castle Borough Council has reduced funding from £585,000 for charities and voluntary groups in 2009 to £387,000 this year. The council said the reductions were the result of a planned programme to reduce the number of services it commissions from local charities. In 2010/11, Cheshire East Council’s spent £5.9 million on payments to charities for contracts and commissioned work. Funding allocated for 2011/ 12 totals £4.7 million, with 31 groups waiting for news of this year’s funding, which depends on a six-month review into children’s services commissioning. Staffordshire Moorlands District Council paid £220,000 to eight groups and is not cutting the budget this year. Stafford Borough Council has paid £191,000 to 10 charities and voluntary organisations in each of the last two financial years. It will make the same payments in 2011/12.

What do you think? Email us at letters@thesentinel.co.uk Cuts put services under threat: Page 6

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TWO public inquiries are due to start today to determine whether a country park and a community space should be protected from developers. The applications for ‘village green’ status were first lodged in 2009 by action groups fighting plans to build a school at either Adderley Green or Park Hall. It was later agreed to build the new Discovery Academy, in Bentilee. But both village green bids are still being pursued to protect the land for good. One of the sites is Park Hall Country Park and the neighbouring golf course. The other is off Anchor Road, in Adderley Green. Both inquiries will be held in tandem at Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Civic Centre, in Glebe Street, Stoke, from today. The Adderley Green inquiry is scheduled for two days, while the Park Hall hearing should run until Wednesday.


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