Sunday, October 30, 2016

Cuts in funding to Nairn Community and Arts Centre - a stay of execution?

A motion at the Highland Council Education, childred and adult services committee last Wedneday (26th October) that would have seen a bunch of grants to community organisations severly cut across the Highlands has been put back for further review. Following complaints from councillors that the process that led to the cuts was not “open and transparent” the whole batch of cuts to Funding for 3rd sector culture and leisure services was put back for further consideration. 

A stay of execution then for funding to Nairn Community and Arts Centre which would drop from the current £65,252 to £38,064 in 2017/18 and to nothing at all in 2018/19. There was some mention from the Council Leader Margaret Davidson about finding an alternative means of funding the Community Centre however, but it is not clear how that would work although Liz MacDonald welcomed the Convenor's consideration. 

Cllr Laurie Fraser spoke up for Nairn Museum but the Chair pointed out that that was now dealt with by Highland High Life. Laurie then raised the issue of the cut in funding for the sports club. 

Councillor Stephen Fuller initiated an amendment to the the cuts proposal that called for the further review, he eventually allowed his amendment to pass in favour of a similar amendment from a LibDem Councillor. 

Stephen told the Gurn: “I was one of the members who sat on this working group. Ahead of the ECAs meeting a number of members (including some from the independents group administration) had mentioned that they were unsure of the criteria used to determine these cuts and have not seen minutes from all three working group meetings. These minutes were also not provided at ECAs to accompany the report where members were being asked to approve the decisions. These kinds of hard decisions should not be done behind closed doors, it is important that we remain open and transparent with a level of accountability, that is why I felt that this should be looked at again and done properly.”

Gurnites can watch the debate about 3rd sector culture and leisure services funding cuts on this Highland Council webcasting page here by clicking on item 7.

UPDATE: Cllr Richard Laird tells the Gurn on twitter tonight: "Important to point out that the cuts will only be put back for further consideration if the Council votes to."


Cut to the chase said...

Years ago the idea of such hard hitting cuts would have led to protest, even citizen unrest. Do I assume that we're all going to roll over with the cry 'there's no money' and watch from behind safe doors all of our services close one by one?

If we let it happen they'll never come back, not in our lifetime. What sort of society do we want, one where only the rich can survive happily

Added to the misery of Highland Council cuts we also have Brexit which is yet to happen. Food is already rising in price as the pound is worth so little. Apparently we should all be satisfied with this as it's great for exports

Scotland probably lost it's chance to become independent anytime soon, but are we really going to sit back and shrug our shoulders at whatever Westminster doles out to us. The front bench made up of millionaires and multi millionaires will probably make more money out of the chaos. Meanwhile do we just sit on our hands?

cutting crew said...

Well done to those who called for open-ness and transparency. Cuts will have to happen. But there needs to be a properly informed public debate about what and where.

The proposals for cuts to Nairn's Community and Arts Centre, and indeed to the Nairn Museum, highlight what seems to be a glaring inconsistency in the Highland Council's approach. Because the Community Centre is not owned, managed and run by the Council (but just gets a grant) it's an easy target. We need to know whether those - many - other community centres around the Highlands which are actually run by the Council are being asked to cope with similar funding cuts.

The same applies to museums. Laurie Fraser was right to raise the point. It is scandalous that Nairn's Museum is facing cuts so severe that it may have to close permanently - while at the same time the Inverness Museum is not only funded by the Council but is going to be getting £millions in additional public funding for an "upgrade" - in the form of expensive gold-coloured cladding on the building!

All this has nothing to do with Westminster or Brexit. This is about local decision-making. It's all about fair shares, fair play and a level playing field within the Highland region. At the moment there is precious little evidence of that.

Nairn's Councillors should move on from simply obstructing unwelcome proposals to making the case vigorously for fair and equal treatment.