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Anger over lost grant

PUBLISHED: 10:59 05 June 2009 | UPDATED: 09:56 06 July 2010

A WAR of words has broken out this week between a community action group and Waveney District Council over a "lost" grant of £2,400.

Board members of Lowestoft Together are angry after they allocated the money to three charities who will not now receive the cash.

A WAR of words has broken out this week between a community action group and Waveney District Council over a “lost” grant of £2,400.

Board members of Lowestoft Together are angry after they allocated the money to three charities who will not now receive the cash.

However, Waveney District Council insist there has been a misunderstanding and that officials were only trying to ensure the action group did not lose any grants available.

The problem arose when deputy chief executive of the council, Arthur Charvonia, informed board members at a special meeting held on March 17 that £2,400, which appeared unallocated, would be lost if it was not allocated by the end of the financial year … in April.

The board was determined this should not happen and decided to hand out £800 each to three charities - Disability Information Advice Line (DIAL), Citizens' Advice Bureau and Lowestoft International Support Group.

Although £2,400 was with Lowestoft Together when Mr Charvonia met with board members in March the money had, in fact, already been allocated elsewhere and a few weeks later, at the end of the financial year, there was no underspend.

Richard Jolley, a community board member of Lowestoft Together, said: “I was totally shocked at how Waveney Council has treated the Lowestoft Together board in connection with grants that had been accepted and approved by both themselves, the assessment panel and the rest of the Lowestoft Together Board.

“At a board meeting of Lowestoft Together we were instructed by Waveney to spend £2,400 by the year end or this money would have to be sent back to the government.”

Fellow board member Ann Hubbard agreed and said: “The community members on the Lowestoft Together board, all of whom are volunteers, have done a lot of hard work striving to make the wards in which they live better places.

“I'm afraid that all Waveney Council is doing is to make the board distrust anything that is told to them in the future.”

Board member Vic Kirk said that the three charities had been left in a “financial catastrophe” as a result of not receiving the grant aid.

“It's about time Waveney Council started to live in the real world - open local government, open local finances and proper communication,” he said.

But a spokesman for the council said Mr Charvonia had made it clear to the board of Lowestoft Together that allocated funds could not be carried over from one financial year to the next and that at the time he was speaking on March 17 there was still £2,400 available.

“It is for board members to allocate their own budget and the council was trying to help by making sure that all available funds went to good causes. The budget process meant that by the end of the financial year there was no money left to be allocated.”

Meetings are planned between council officials and Lowestoft Together members to ensure that a similar situation does not arise in the future.

Ms Hubbard added: “I'm afraid that all Waveney Council is doing is to make the board distrust anything that is told to them in the future. Above all, the Lowestoft Together board must feel that it can trust all the agencies that are present - this sort of incident only goes to prove that trust is not there, and once this happens, it takes a long, long time to build up that trust again.”

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