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North Edinburgh: Shutdown fears after grants cut

posted 27 Nov 2008, 03:44 by myEdinburgh Admin   [ updated 27 Nov 2008, 03:48 ]
Community groups in north Edinburgh have warned they risk having to close in the wake of council funding cuts. The warning comes as the first details of how changes to the way Fairer Scotland Fund (FSF) grants are distributed around the city are revealed.

Traditionally worse-off areas, such as the Forth ward, which includes Granton, Muirhouse, Drylaw and Pilton, are losing out to more affluent areas such as the city centre and nearby Almond ward, which covers Cramond and Silverknowes.

Groups in the Forth ward, including the Pilton Equalities Partnership and Muirhouse Millennium Centre, have seen their awards slashed by £500,000 as the city council tries to spread the grant awards more evenly.

Other areas losing out include the Craigentinny/Duddingston ward, where community groups will get £100,000 less than last year.

Local Labour councillor Ewan Aitken said: "Because of the cuts by the SNP/Lib Dem administration, jobs have been lost, we have fewer places for those seeking employment, those recovering from drug addictions, support for vulnerable tenants, youth work and much more."

City leaders today said the redistribution of funding will help better tackle "pockets" of poverty and health inequality.

However, Peter Airlie, acting manager of the Muirhouse Millennium Centre, said halving its grant meant it would have enough to heat and insure the building but not employ staff to open it.

He said: "We were expecting cuts, but nothing as severe as this. The whole thing has been totally unfair to north Edinburgh and we have all sorts of groups in here, from young mums to pensioners, who will lose out now."

Last year, the Forth ward received £1.5 million, but that will fall to £1m. Meanwhile, areas like the south-west of the city, which traditionally received virtually nothing, will get around £600,000 per year.

Cammy Day, the new Labour councillor for the Forth ward, said: "There appears to be no right to appeal or very little consultation on this and no attempt to look at how other sources of funding can be obtained or how we can stop a lot of these organisations from disappearing."

The Capital's £7.5m share of the Government's FSF is handled by the Edinburgh Partnership, made up of key bodies such as the council, NHS and police.

The partnership will only hand out money to organisations that can achieve three key priorities – early intervention in the cycle of deprivation, health improvements and job opportunities.

Councillor Tom Buchanan, the city's community engagement leader, said: "It is 'fairer' precisely because it acknowledges that 'pockets' of poverty and health inequality can exist in even the most affluent of neighbourhoods."

By Andrew Picken

Source: Edinburgh Evening News