Antrim projects backed by the Policing and Community Safety Partnership could be in jeopardy due to a shortage of funding.
Several community-based initiatives are facing an uncertain future after the Joint Committee which funds local PCSPs announced “significant in-year budget cuts” - and local councillors declined to use ratepayers’ money to make up the shortfall.
At their monthly meeting on Monday, August 24, Antrim and Newtownabbey councillors turned down a recommendation from officers that almost £167,000 of additional funding be approved to support PCSP programme delivery and running costs for the period October 1 this year to March 31 next year.
The Joint Committee (Policing Board and Department of Justice) funding allocation for Antrim and Newtownabbey PCSP for 2015/16 was expected to be more than £333,000, with council match funding in excess of £107,000.
However, in-year budget cuts mean that the Joint Committee has slashed its funding contribution by more than £166,000 - something likely to have a significant impact on ongoing programme delivery.
Alderman Mark Cosgrove described the PCSP budget cut as “a completely unacceptable outworking of the failure to implement welfare reform”, claiming that the government is now “unable to fund basic community services.”
Saying that he couldn’t support the council paying the £167,000, Alderman Cosgrove recognised that such a decision would potentially hurt some projects already promised funding, but stressed that the shortage of money wasn’t the fault of the council.
Councillor Anne Marie Logue expressed concern that failure to provide the additional funding could mean “losing vital services to our locality”.
She claimed that the council was already “propping up Roads Service” by taking on grass cutting work and questioned why it couldn’t support another department.
Council chief executive Jacqui Dixon informed members that all groups that have been receiving money through the PCSP have funding in place until the end of September.
She suggested that officers should bring back more information on the issue and details of other potential funding options.
Mrs Dixon also stressed the need to put more pressure on the department to find additional funding.
Members voted 26 - 0 in favour of Alderman Cosgrove’s proposal not to approve the additional funding. All three Sinn Fein members abstained.