Jem Muharrem

Words on thought, art and music

Big Society still important in Bevendean

Thursday 2nd February 2012

By Jem Muharrem

http://www.theargus.co.uk/communitypages/bevendean/news/9509733.Big_Society_still_important_in_Bevendean/

Bevendean Local Action Team is standing firm behind the idea of the Big Society against a backlash by residents of West Sussex County Council.

The group have benefitted from association with the scheme since their visit to Number 10 in March 2011 to collect the Prime Minister’s Big Society Award for the efficacy of the Leybourne Parade Regeneration scheme.

West Sussex County Council recently ignored the advice of 1,300 individuals and organisations who placed the Big Society Fund at the bottom of pile for funding priorities. Swathing cuts are being proposed to family, children and road maintenance funds while the Big Society Fund, which stands at £240,000 according to 2011/12 figures, remains intact.

Bill Gandey, chairman of the Bevendean Local Action Team said today: “Councillors need to make a decision on making cuts, do they have any other choice in these times?”

Whilst agreeing that the proposed cuts would be tough, Mr Gandey said that the Big Society Fund was vital for the survival of small organisations which work to enhance the lives of local communities. He said that non-for-profit organisations need a helping hand to pay for essentials like halls for meetings, which often are paid for straight out of committee members’ pockets.“You can get so lost in the search for funding, that you end up forgetting your role in the first place; to help improve your community,” Mr Gandey said.

When asked if the fact that BLAT had recently received the Big Society Award coloured his views, Mr Gandey replied “No, Bevendean Local Action Team was around four or five years before the Big Society Idea was established. When it did come about, it was just in recognition of groups that had already existed for many years. It just highlights what good things these organisations are.”

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