Tuesday, 13 September 2011

County Tories Rob Voluntary Projects To Pay For Broadband

Community projects throughout the county have been put at risk after £4 million intended to support them is being used to bail out the county council’s finances.
The government’s Local Public Sector Award grant should have been used to help voluntary organisations provide community schemes across the county.
But instead it has been taken by the ruling Conservative-group on the county council who claim they need the money to pay for high speed broadband across the county.
They had already intended to go-ahead with the scheme and fund it from various funding sources, including county council reserves. But instead they have decided to use the money intended for the voluntary sector, leaving question marks hanging over the future of projects, many of which were designed to promote healthy living, help the homeless and tackle unemployment.
Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats are appalled by the move and have accused the Tories of ignoring their national party’s “Big Society” and gutting the voluntary sector.
Lib Dems are worried because they say, at a time when the voluntary sector is experiencing unprecedented demand, it is imperative for local councils to continue to support charitable work.
Cambridgeshire Lib Dem Kilian Bourke said: "Nationally David Cameron eulogises the Big Society but locally Nick Clarke's Conservatives are gutting the voluntary sector.  Many of these projects would still be viable with some support; at a time when the voluntary sector is experiencing unprecedented demand it is imperative that local councils continue to support their charitable work."
"It is not clear why the Conservative districts are going along with this.  Giving this money to the County Council will not actually result in one more broadband cable being laid, it will only offset the county council's accounts at the expense of the voluntary sector. Why have these groups not been properly consulted?"