Labour and Tories clash over County Hall grants

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DOZENS of Mansfield area charities and groups will benefit after County Hall agreed up to £2.14m in grant aid support.

Nottinghamshire County Council bosses say figures for 2012/13 show their support will increase by £50,000 over the next two years.

But this has been questioned by opposition politicians who claim support for voluntary groups has been cut by more than one-third overall by the Conservative-led authority.

A panel made up of councillors from all political parties considered each grant aid application on its own merits, and for the first time the majority of the grants have been awarded over a three-year period.

Of those groups which applied for grant aid, 58 have had their funding maintained at 2011/12 levels, 31 organisations have had their funding increased and 13 have seen their funding reduced. In addition, 28 new groups are being allocated a grant.

Among the groups which will benefit are Clipstone Miners’ Welfare Community Trust, Forest Town’s Kingsway Community Project – Young People and Bilsthorpe Colliery Quadrilateral Division.

Coun Martin Suthers, deputy leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “Our new three-year grants give voluntary groups greater security and the ability to plan their future budgets, which addresses a concern that the sector has raised with us.

“The grant aid picture for 2012/13 is similar to this year as most groups who currently receive a grant will receive the same or more and we have awarded grants to 28 new groups.

“Our overall grant aid pot has increased by £50,000 this year and we also provide around £25m a year through other funding to the voluntary sector to carry out work on our behalf. ”

But county councillor for Mansfield North and deputy leader of the Labour group, Coun Joyce Bosnjak, said the announcement was misleading.

“The reality is the Conservative-led council cut its voluntary sector funding by 34 per cent when the Government grant was only cut by eight per cent,” she said.

“It has made huge cuts to its voluntary sector budget and the disproportionate cuts were even publicly criticised by their own Tory Minister Eric Pickles. They have put back in a fraction of the huge cuts they originally made. They are fooling no-one; the damage to community services is still as devastating as before.”