SEAFORD: Charity forced to cut hours after council refuses to renew grant

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A SEAFORD charity has had to cut its opening hours after it failed to secure a £3,000 grant.

A dispute over the money has erupted following a meeting of Seaford Town Council where it was decided that the grant for 2010/11 would not be given to the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).

The CAB, based at 37 Church Street, said it had agreed in 2007 to help deliver the One Stop Shop - which includes the police station and other facilities being based under one roof - on the understanding its core grant would be reinstated in 2010/11.

But Seaford town clerk Sam Shippen said the charity was advised by the former town clerk Len Fisher in 2007 to approach the council after the period of time was up to see if the grant could be reinstated.

The grant decisions were made in July last year and Mrs Shippen said the CAB did not get in contact with their grant application until after the deadline, some months later.

In January the council made a resolution not to give them the grant money out of its 2010/11 budget and at the same time the council considered whether the charity’s grant for 2011/12 should be looked at early.

It was decided that it would not be looked at early and at a further meeting in April a decision to rescind this was not supported.

Leaflets saying the town council had withdrawn its funding were handed out around town shortly after the decision by volunteers from the Seaford CAB.

The CAB says it has now slashed its hours as a result and will be open on Monday and Tuesday for appointments only, Wednesdays between 9.15am and 4pm and will close early on Fridays at 12.45pm. The facility will not be open on a Thursday.

Its former hours meant it was open later on Fridays and that a drop-in session was available on Tuesdays.

Jackie Wilkes, district manager of Lewes and Seaford CAB, said although it was accepted that the application was late the CAB thought the spirit of the agreement would be adhered too.

Michael Bell, chair of Lewes and Seaford CAB, said, “It is very disappointing that we will be able to help fewer, not more, people in the future.

“By preventing homelessness, resolving financial problems and maximising incomes our advisers help to generate income that is likely to be spent locally.

“It is a false economy to cut funding to bureaux, as early access to advice saves money for the Government in the long run.

“Demand for our service is increasing and we are concerned that vulnerable people will suffer the most as they have nowhere else to turn.”

Mrs Shippen explained it had been a late application and added, “The CAB have been advised they will be considered for funding in 2011/12.

“The town council has given the CAB the use of additional space to their offices within 37 Church Street to help them with their increase in demand free of charge.”

She added that outgoing mayor Bob Allen had raised £1,580 for the CAB during his mayoral year when it was one of his chosen charities.

Seaford CAB is now seeking donations towards it shortfall of £3,000.

Anyone who would like to help can call 01273 473082 or send a donation to Seaford Citizens Advice Bureau, 37 Church Street, Seaford, BN25 1HD.