Portsmouth City Council under fire for axing charity money

Lee Hutton, left, with his mum Christine Hutton and all staff from First Bus who took part in a bus pull in memory of Trevor Hutton, below. ''Picture: Sarah Standing (122664-6142)
Lee Hutton, left, with his mum Christine Hutton and all staff from First Bus who took part in a bus pull in memory of Trevor Hutton, below. ''Picture: Sarah Standing (122664-6142)

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FUNDRAISERS say a decision to stop giving money raised from textiles recycling banks to charity is ‘selfish and unfair’.

Portsmouth City Council’s Tory administration voted to keep all of the cash it pockets from the service instead of distributing some to worthy causes.

JPNS-19-10-11-015 Trevor Hutton''PICTURE: From: Christine Hutton'chris.hutton50@ntlworld.com ENGPPP00120111018143955

JPNS-19-10-11-015 Trevor Hutton''PICTURE: From: Christine Hutton'chris.hutton50@ntlworld.com ENGPPP00120111018143955

It is a move that will net the authority an extra £55,000 a year as it seeks to claw back savings in next year’s budget due to cuts in government funding.

The charities hit the hardest are Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance, which is expected to lose £18,100 a year, the British Heart Foundation which will miss out on £10,200 and the Salvation Army which will now not see £11,700.

The decision comes despite an agreement last year that the money, which comes from the sale of clothes donated by the public to poor countries, would not be taken away.

Christine Hutton, 60, of Paulsgrove, criticised the move as the BHF has supported her since her husband Trevor, 55, died of a heart attack five years ago.

Mrs Hutton raised money for the charity through a bus pull in Trevor’s memory.

‘It’s selfish and unfair,’ Mrs Hutton said. ‘These charities need the money to carry on and help people.

‘In this day and age, they need as much as they can get.’

Alex Lochrane, chief executive of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance, said: ‘It’s unfortunate and very sad but we will work as hard as we can to reclaim that income.

‘I would hope it will not have an impact on our service.’

Mr Lochrane questioned whether the money would be recouped through a suggestion made by council leader Donna Jones that council tax forms could include a slip encouraging residents to make a contribution to the air ambulance.

The Lib Dems had suggested all councillors take a cut in their allowances to protect charities – but this was thrown out.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem group leader, said: ‘This could lead to cuts to services provided to the most vulnerable people in Portsmouth.’

Cllr Luke Stubbs, Tory deputy council leader, said: ‘We are dealing with the consequences of a sharp reduction in its government grants.

‘There’s nothing to stop the Lib Dems putting back some of their councillors’ allowances if that’s what’s that they want to do – I will be amazed if that happens.’

Textile Recycling for Aid and International Development will have £11,000 slashed, disability charity Scope will lose £2,800 and children’s charity Dreams Come True is to lose £1,200.