ADeC budget cut is a major worry
THE way in which the decision was taken to cut £70,000 from the ADeC budget is both hugely worrying and extraordinary. ADeC is an independent charity and has had an agreement with the council since 1994 to deliver an arts service across the district back
THE way in which the decision was taken to cut £70,000 from the ADeC budget is both hugely worrying and extraordinary. ADeC is an independent charity and has had an agreement with the council since 1994 to deliver an arts service across the district backed by a Service Level Agreement.
In recent years, the Community Services Committee has had the responsibility on behalf of the council of receiving reports from ADeC and of setting the budget for the following year.
Traditionally, it has been a collaborative and constructive relationship and ADeC has been able to respond positively to a range of requests from councillors and officers.
In addition to the council's grant, ADeC has raised large sums, from trust funds and the arts council, totalling more than £750,000 in the last seven years, for a wide range of arts projects in East Cambridgeshire.
ADeC has to bid for these funds and the success comes about because ADeC is known to have excellent staff who can deliver projects on time, good management and the backing of a supportive council. This project funding must now be in jeopardy.
ADeC has worked positively and successfully alongside the district council over the last 13 years for the benefit of the arts for a wide range of local people and organisations. It has not been immune to cuts, but it has always been given plenty of warning and has held detailed discussions with councillors and officers so that the consequences of any cuts are understood by all before decisions are taken.
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As ADeC's chairman from 1992-2005, I was involved in these discussions and respected the political process.
No longer. I understand that ADeC's trustees were offered no discussions in advance of the meeting on October 11 when the budget for next year was cut by 40 per cent (£70,000).
Is this really the best way to work with the arts organisation that you have had such a productive relationship with for 13 years?
Is this slap in the face justified for the organisation that took a big risk when it stepped in to save the loss-making cinema from closure two years ago?
What will the consequences be of such a savage cut?
What are the justifications for it?
Are all Conservative councillors happy with the way in which it has been handled?
Will the cinema at the Maltings be safe? The lease runs out shortly - will the council continue the requirement in the new lease for the arts to have access on a regular basis and at a preferential rate as part of the council's commitment to the arts?
Indeed, will the council honour the commitments made all those years ago when the brewery gave The Malting to the Urban District Council that the building was to be used for the benefit of local people?
These questions would have been unthinkable in the past, but the extraordinary recent handling of ADeC's annual grant means that we all need to be on our guard if this turns out to be the way in which our elected councillors choose to deal with difficult budget decisions.
I read in your paper that the matter is being referred to the overview and scrutiny committee. May I make a plea for common sense to prevail and that discussions are held with ADeC before any cuts are made to see whether there can be a practical way forward?