Probe into CVS as funds suspended

Blackpool Council leader Simon Blackburn
Blackpool Council leader Simon Blackburn
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TOWN hall bosses have backed out of funding the group which oversees the voluntary sector on the Fylde coast amid concerns about the way it is being run.

Blackpool Council had put aside £33,000 this year for the Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde Council for Voluntary Service (CVS).

But following the first quarterly payment of £8,200, further payments have been suspended until the matter is resolved.

Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said: “Over a number of months I have become increasingly concerned about the way in which the Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde CVS operates.

“We have requested a series of meetings with the chairman and responsible members of the board to discuss the way forward and to develop an action plan to address our concern.

“The council has withdrawn payments to the CVS until these discussions have taken place and a satisfactory conclusion has been reached.”

Among the areas of concern are the current governance arrangements of the group, the role of the chairman and arrangements regarding the organisation’s finance officer.

The CVS, which is based in Abingdon Street, provides support and training for voluntary groups.

Chairman Melanie Oliver confirmed the organisation was going through a review following the departure of the chief executive and a long standing trustee.

She added: “Blackpool Council is one of the many organisations with an interest in the CVS and they are providing positive inputs to the review process.

“Their decision to review their current funding of CVS is a clear indication of their commitment to ensuring effective use of public funds and we believe the outcome of our review will strengthen our relationship with all our stakeholders.

“Projects are continuing and are unaffected by the review.”

Bruce Allen, of Blackpool Community First, said he welcomed the review. He said: “A lot of questions are being asked about what the CVS has achieved.”

But CVS project leaders defended the organisation.

One of them, Kim Wood ,said: “We have introduced over 1,000 new users to the internet through sessions at our offices in Abingdon Street, and at various outreach locations.”

Simon Lawton, Voluntary, Community and Faith sector project officer added: “Over the last quarter the project has delivered nine training sessions, including health and safety, equality, food and hygiene and governance to more than 90 people from a wide range of organisations.

“We have held nine drop-in funding advice sessions across Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre and supported 49 individual funding appointments.”