November 1, 2017
Something seems awry
All the big funders of Scotland’s voluntary sector occasionally meet up as the Funders’ Forum. I imagine one of the hot topics is how to ensure consistency, transparency and accountability for the decisions they have to make. Demand for funding usually exceeds the amount available to disburse and so, to some extent, it’s inevitable that a proportion of applicants will end up disappointed. Nonetheless, something must be awry with a process that can leave a community high and dry after years of work and thousands of pounds invested in developing the proposal.
Scotland’s biggest funder is disempowering a Scots community, a leading body has claimed.
As exclusively revealed by TFN this week, Linwood Community Development Trust (LCDT) had a £1 million lottery bid rejected – a move it now says was designed to disadvantage the town.
The trust told TFN it believes lottery bosses rejected its application to “point score” against Renfrewshire Council, which has already backed the £3m Mossedge Village Project with £1.2m of funding.
And now the Development Trust Association Scotland (DTAS) has hit out saying the decision to reject Linwood’s bid has grave implications for similar projects around the country.
Ian Cooke, director of DTAS, said that the Big Lottery Fund’s decision would have repercussions.
He said: “While recognising that the demand for Big Lottery funding exceeds the money available for funding, the decision of the Big Lottery not to fund the Linwood project raises wider implications for community empowerment and community-led development (both national policies) in Scotland.”
Cooke added: “DTAS has long supported the view that the community ownership of assets can be an empowering activity for communities. But it seems the amount of time, effort and money which LCDT have had to expend in reaching this point of rejection, is more dis-empowering than empowering.”
Campaigners have now vowed the project will go ahead without lottery cash.
Jeannette Anderson of the trust said: “It really is beginning to look like the lottery isn’t sure at all, as to why they turned down our application.
“We have obtained a copy of the lottery assessment report which showed the Trust scoring “good” across all sections.
“It is beginning to look like that the lottery used Linwood to make a point to Renfrewshire Council.
“We will not allow anyone to use the trust or Linwood in this way.”
Cash would create an urban village including a community hall and an all-weather football pitch with changing facilities, a theatre and a community growing area.
But after a four-year process and over £200,000 spent on the bid, the group slammed the lottery for rejecting the application.
Kirsty Flannigan, the trust manager, said that representatives from Renfrewshire Council, the Scottish Government and LCDT will be meeting to discuss another option for the proposed Mossedge centre.
“The trust is determined to deliver on our plans for Mossedge 3G park, the nurseries and our other activities. We got a real boost on Wednesday with the confirmation of £220,000 from the Scottish Government to invest in the Woodland nursery.
“The trust and Linwood know what we are doing. We will leave it up to other people to make their own assessment of the Lottery.”
A spokeswoman for the Big Lottery Fund said: “Our committee judged that, with two other facilities close by, a new third community building did not offer value for money and they also had concerns for the ongoing sustainability of the project.”
A Renfrewshire Council spokesman added: “The funding would have been the final component needed for the project, which included £300,000 from the council and a further £800,000 which the council had applied for from the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund, on behalf of LCDT