Grant refusal sparks row

Claremont First Step Community Centre, Dickson Road, North Shore.

Claremont First Step Community Centre, Dickson Road, North Shore.

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A row has broken out after a community centre was refused a grant to help support what it says is a vital service.

The Claremont First Step Community Centre, on Dickson Road, had applied for £2,900 from the South Shore Area Forum to help fund its Wednesday Activity Club, which is attended by people from across Blackpool.

Cash would have helped fund the salary of a project worker and the purchase of some new equipment.

But the application was turned down because the forum said the money needed to be set aside to support projects in South Shore.

Joanne Shepherd, chief officer at the Claremont First Step Community Centre, said: “We applied to the forum for funds to help us to continue to run a stimulating day of activities specifically designed for people with learning difficulties, complex needs and mental health issues.

“There are no activities for this group in this area and so we opened up our centre to accommodate people from all areas including South Shore.

“We, like many other small local charitable organisations are struggling significantly and are in desperate need of support.

“Subsequently we were unsuccessful in our plight, and the monies, we believe, have been returned to the council which will now be lost.”

The club is attended by up to 30 people a week.

Ms Shepherd added: “I certainly hope we will not have to finish delivering the project. It depends on whether we have funds in place to enable us to staff it. We were lucky enough to receive £3,390 from Sandhurst Area Forum for the same project which gives me a little breathing space to find further funds.”

Squires Gate councillor Douglas Green, who is a member of the forum, said the money would be ringfenced to go towards other projects in South Shore.

He said: “The money asked for amounted to 50 per cent of what we had left of our area funding. We appreciate the valued work they do in Claremont and it does provide a facility for the whole town, but sometimes you have to look to your own community.

“We felt it was important to keep some money aside for projects in South Shore, and a democratic decision was made by the members of the forum.”