Fareham Borough Council threatens to pull funding for volunteer group

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FUNDING for a group that organises volunteers is under threat as a council looks to put its contract out to tender.

Councillors at Fareham Borough Council decided to re-evaluate the £41,000 a year it gives to Community Action Fareham at a meeting last night.

This means the group will be forced to come up with an action plan and compete with other organisations for the cash.

Raymond Hale, chairman of trustees for Community Action Fareham, said: ‘We are very disappointed.

‘The sort of service that we provide in supporting volunteers and community groups is very difficult to measure.’

He said the group had been building links with other groups such as Gosport Voluntary Action but this had not been enough for the council.

Community Action Fareham, which is run by volunteers, has been the borough’s independent council for voluntary services for the past 20 years.

Executive member for community Connie Hockley said that councillors had become frustrated with the lack of accountability for the funding that the group has received, despite requests for more transparency. She said: ‘We have provided considerable funding in the past to support the network of community and voluntary groups.

‘But we need to be sure the money we make available is being used in the right way and that it is benefitting the greatest numbers of groups, while at the same time meeting community needs.’

Hampshire County Council has also reviewed its funding for voluntary and community groups and is now awarding money to geographical clusters rather than individual councils of voluntary service.

Fareham’s funding from the county is now grouped with Gosport to create a cluster that is led by Gosport Community Action.

Community Action Fareham now has six months to come up with an action plan before the council puts its contract out to tender.

Mr Hale said the group would be ‘working hard’ to get together all the information that the council needs in the hope of retaining funding its service.

Council funding for its Dial-a-Ride and Shopmobility services will continue.