Kingsbury nursery project faces financial misery by Government red tape

Pastor says government decision flies in the face of Big Society idea

A MUCH needed community centre and nursery has been put in jeopardy after the government recalled tens of thousands of pounds it granted in funding.

Pastor Alton Bell, of Sudbury Methodist Church, in Harrow Road, Wembley, was awarded a �70,000 Department for Education grant by Brent Council towards building a centre in Eaton Grove Open Space, Kingsbury.

Mr Bell planned to offer a variety of workshops to young people including mentoring, counselling and football, cooking and computer workshops at the new space.

However in a recent letter the council told Mr Bell he must spend the money before the end of March when the Department for Education (DoE) will recall any unspent money.

Having already raised �30,000 through fundraising initiatives, Mr Bell only needed a further �140,000 to get the project off the ground.

Mr Bell said: “It really annoys me. They are telling us to spend the money on nursery equipment now and put it in storage. We have had to stop running our courses because funding stopped. The kids are probably loitering on the streets now. When they are doing something practical they want to learn and our counselling service helps get them back into school.”

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The Government decided to recall unspent money following a review during last year’s emergency budget.

Cllr Mary Arnold, lead member for children and families, said: “It’s just another example of this Government undermining the good work we are trying to do with early year programmes but we are hopeful the money will not be lost and the project can continue.”

Mr Bell said: “We hope David Cameron’s Big Society will include us and we hope to meet up with Sarah Teather to get some funds to help build the centre.”

The DoE said the money could not be carried through to the next financial year and it was down to the council to deal with any issues that emerge after March 31.

However a spokeswoman said: “There will be funding available for Big Society projects through the �100 million Transition Fund recently announced by the Chancellor’ and from the Big Society Bank from summer 2011.”

A Brent Council spokesperson said: “The terms of the grant are set by Government and state a date by which the money must be spent, in this case by the 31 March, after which council have to return any unspent money.”