Funding threat for community groups

CHARITIES and community groups across the district could lose vital funds to support their activities after the district council cut thousands of pounds in recycling credits.

CHARITIES and community groups across the district could lose vital funds to support their village halls, play areas and activities after the district council decided to cut thousands of pounds in recycling credits.

Among the losers will be Littleport’s Branching Out charity for adults with learning disabilities which will lose about �8,000 and Haddenham’s Arkenstall Centre which will see its income drop from �2,500 to just �600.

At Brinkley, in the south of the district, the village hall may have to close because it is supported by about �1,200 a year received from recycling credits.

In the current system, Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC) pays East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC) �38 a tonne for recycling and this is passed on to charities and organisations which run bottle and clothes banks.

But now the Conservative group on ECDC have decided that they will pass on a flat rate of just �78 a year for each recycling bank.

And they are to look closely at recycling banks across the district to see whether some of them should be removed cutting further the income paid to organisations.

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Organisers of Branching Out, which maintains 12 recycling banks across the district and receives �10,000 a year in credits, have told ECDC that the decision has led to redundancies and a complete restructuring of the charity to secure its future.

General Manager, Susan Wiggans told councillors in a letter: “Sufficient thought has not been given to what impact this will have on those who are regarded as the most vulnerable in our community.”

Lib Dem councillor, Neil Morrison who represents Littleport said: “Branching Out relies heavily on recycling not only to generate much needed income, but to provide a working environment for the people with learning difficulties that it supports. Taking this away has been a double blow.

“The Tories have made this decision to plug a hole in their finances without thinking through the severe impact it will have on all those charities and organisations which rely on this money.”

Lib Dem environment spokesman, Bob Stevens said: “East Cambridgeshire District Council has the worst recycling record in the county and at every turn the Tories are adding to the problems.

“They have taken away the plastic bottle collection now they are taking away any incentive for people to recycle. This makes no sense.

“The income the district council receives from the county council under the recycling scheme is based on quantity, but there is no longer any incentive for residents to collect more and the council’s income could fall unless residents choose to support the district council in preference to their local facilities. This is hardly in the spirit of increased Localism.”

Cllr Fred Brown: “None of the proposals we have put forward have been suggested without a great deal of thought and discussion. We know there are many groups who have come to rely on the money which they receive from us – the problem which we all face is when this money stops.

“It is interesting that despite all the outrage from our opposition they haven’t been able to suggest anything which would help balance the budget.”