Charity warns of ‘dire consequences’ for community of planned budget cuts

A Torbay charity has warned of the ‘dire consequences’ of proposed swatheing cuts to its budget proposed by Torbay Council. The Torbay Community Development Trust (TCDT) is worried about the impact the proposals would have on local voluntary organisations and community groups if its council funding is cut next year from £60,000 to zero. TCDT was set up in 2013 to support groups and organisations in the voluntary sector and to enable people to support each other in their neighbourhoods.

The trust says it is also aware of proposed cuts to the much needed voluntary youth groups in Torbay, which looks like it could be cut from £30,000 to zero. TCDT has supported 25 youth groups including Play Torbay, Brixham YES and Paignton Town Community Partnership (GEO PARK) to access over £1.3 million funding, and says this support is now under threat.

Simon Sherbersky, lead officer of the Torbay Community Development Trust, said: “Obviously we are extremely worried about the future, we’re looking at a cut to our budget from £60,000 to nil and I think this will have dire consequences on the community and voluntary services in the Bay with no ongoing funding from Torbay Council.

“We do appreciate the very difficult position Councilors are in and we know they need to make savings where they can, but from our point of view, these cuts could mean an end to our valuable support for local voluntary groups and organisations in Torbay. Not only that, we continually bring in funding to the Bay from elsewhere with our funding bids.

“For every pound the council tax payer invested in the trust in the last year, they got back over £20 in terms of the money we raise from other funders for Torbay community organisations and voluntary groups.”

The trust’s work this year has ranged from saving the no 60/61 bus route which was at risk of being axed; the route is a lifeline for people living in Paignton and Torbay, and currently carries 5,000 passengers a month.

The trust has conducted 268 funding bids and raised £5.5 million for community and volunteer groups over the last three years, as well as facilitating volunteers who exchanged an astounding 2,862 hours of their time for their communities.

Simon added: “I will be working in partnership with the Council to try and avoid these cuts as far as a possible and will be looking for inventive solutions to bridge the gap.

“We need your voice to support us all in doing the amazing voluntary and community work across Torbay, so please complete the consultation survey and let the Council know what you think of the draft budget.”

In his proposals for last year’s budget, Mayor Gordon Oliver set out his expectation that the Community Development Trust should be self-financing after 2019 as was planned when the Trust was created. This expectation remains and will see the Council cease to provide funding to the Trust. Last year, 77% of respondents to our questionnaire supported this proposal.

Torbay Lottery has been established to enable local groups to raise funds in a different way

A Torbay Council spokesman said: “We are inviting everyone to have their say on the Mayor’s budget proposals for 2018/19. Details of how you can take part in the consultation can be found on our website www.torbay.gov.uk/consultation. Once the consultation ends on Friday December 15 all the feedback will be carefully considered by the mayor and will inform his final proposals. Until this has taken place it would be inappropriate to comment further.

“The final proposals will be considered by council in February and members of the public are invited to attend these meetings.”