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Battle is over as axe comes crashing down on Wolverhampton groups

Wolverhampton | News | Published:

They pleaded with the council for time. Time to find money. Time to plan for the future.

But today, as council bosses revealed where the axe will fall, voluntary groups were facing up to the fact that this is time they are not likely to be given.

Detailed proposals unveiled today reveal 13 groups will see their local authority funding stopped in April, while a further 17 will continue to receive funding for the next financial year only as part of £1.6 million cuts.

Twelve will continue to get financial support for the foreseeable future.

The move will put up to 93 jobs at risk and has sparked fears it will impact on some of the more vulnerable members of society.

Central Youth Theatre is one of the groups which will see its funding stopped in April.

Councillor Elias Mattu

Based at the Newhampton Arts Centre in Dunkley Street, the group has been running for 30 years and has provided activities for thousands of city youngsters.

Director Jane Ward MBE?said: "I'm angry really because we pleaded with the council for time.

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"We asked them not to cut funding to us straight away so we could get more time and come up with some kind of way of funding the group and build a business plan to make us sustainable.

"But if they take the grant away at the speed they are proposing to, then our future is at risk."

At the time that the proposed cuts were first announced, superstar soul singer Beverley Knight – currently starring in The Bodyguard in London's West End – tweeted her support for the group.

As part of the cuts proposed today, Wolverhampton Samaritans would no longer receive its £2,250 funding from April.

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Vernon Dodd, publicity manager for the branch, said: "We're very, very disappointed.

"We do rely on that contribution as we have to raise £30,000 a year ourselves to keep our services running.

"But we are not going to close because of this but it will make it more difficult to raise that additional funding in what is already a difficult climate."

Wildside Activity Centre, in Hordern Road, Whitmore Reans, is set to lose its £73,160 grant from April. Chair of the board of directors Liz Hoggarth said: "The board meets very soon to review the effect of this decision.

Superstar Beverley Knight

"We understand the appalling predicament the council faces but the services we offer in adventurous activities and environmental education are a vital support to schools and families.

"Once lost to the city, they cannot be replaced so we shall be trying every avenue to save provision for the future."

Other groups set to lose funding are Blakenhall Community Advice Centre; BME United; Jericho House; Relate; Stratton Street Community Project; Wildside Activity Centre;

Wolverhampton Community Radio; Wolverhampton Community Transport; Wolverhampton Gateway Clubs, YMCA and Young in Wolverhampton Clubs.

Some groups will continue to receive funding from the council but will do so at a much-reduced rate.

Age UK Wolverhampton will receive £48,050 from next year instead of £120,130 a year, while domestic violence support charity The Haven will get £175,000 rather than £204,230.

Ian Darch, chief executive of Wolverhampton Voluntary Sector Council, today said the reality was voluntary and community sector cuts of more than 50 per cent in the next two years.

"As a result vulnerable people in our communities will lose services, and over 200 jobs will be placed at risk, along with support for over 800 volunteers," he said.

"The services affected include those for young people, the elderly, disabled people, the homeless and other vulnerable groups.

"The council itself is facing huge cuts to its funding from Central Government, but these cuts are being passed on to the city's voluntary and community sector at a level that places at risk the future of the sector as a provider of crucial services to local people." Chiefs today said it was a 'heavy heart' they put forward proposals to reduce funding to the voluntary sector and to cease funding some voluntary groups completely.

Leisure boss Councillor Elias Mattu said that since 2010 the Government had reduced its grants to Wolverhampton by 52 per cent which resulted in savings of £123 million over the next five years.

"The implications of this on the voluntary sector – people who give up their time to make life better for others – is going to be catastrophic, but we have no choice but to make difficult and unpalatable decisions like this due to a situation that has been forced upon us," he said."I want to make it very clear that a loss of funding is in no way a reflection on the quality of work that these voluntary groups do. I want to pay personal and genuine tribute to them for their dedication and service to Wolverhampton and I am sorry that it has come to this."

The proposals will be put forward to Wolverhampton City Council's cabinet on Wednesday for approval.

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