Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Councillors Agree Funds for Charity; PS2.6m Hole in Finances of Leisure Charity to Be Plugged

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Councillors Agree Funds for Charity; PS2.6m Hole in Finances of Leisure Charity to Be Plugged

Article excerpt

Byline: BEN O'CONNELL Local Democracy Reporter

COUNCILLORS in Northumberland have agreed to plug a PS2.6m hole in the finances of the charity running leisure services, but disagreed over who was to blame.

At Northumberland County Council's full meeting, members approved using taxpayers' cash to provide additional funding of up to PS2.635m to meet the charity's 2017/18 deficit.

A report to councillors explained that decisions made by the previous Labour administration have had a 'significant detrimental impact' on the charitable trust's financial position, which the arm's-length organisation could not control.

Coun Nick Oliver, the cabinet member for corporate resources, said that 'it was a shame it's come to this', but that without the cash injection, Active Northumberland 'cannot be considered a going concern'. He said it was caused by historic problems, such as 'inadequate and unrealistic budgets.'.

Labour leader Grant Davey seconded the proposal to provide the PS2.6m as he 'wholeheartedly supports the continuation' of Active, but he disputed some of the claims made by Coun Oliver as to where the blame lies. He added that he was 'very, very disappointed' with the comments of the Active board, which included references to a number of changes of which they were not given notice or made aware and a lack of consultation.

But Coun Davey said decisions were made by the Active board, not the council.

The breakdown of communications seems to have been between the board and the management of Active, he added.

However, council and Conservative leader Peter Jackson said Coun Davey 'seemed to be living in a parallel universe', saying that the situation is so serious that wages probably wouldn't be able to be paid next week without the one-year rescue package 'and that's the mess that you and your administration has left us with. …

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