Christmas lifeline for Richmond charities

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Saved: Linden Hall Saved: Linden Hall

A lifeline has been handed to day centres and charities threatened with closure after failing to win a Richmond Council.

The council will inject an extra £206,837-a-year into the Community Independent Living Scheme after the competitive tendering process left valued services unfunded.

Linden Hall in Hampton and Barnes Green Day Centre, which were to close at the end of the month after failing to win a contract, will receive £126,837-a-year for the next four years.

A further £80,000 was allocated for “related services” across the borough.

Earlier this year, the council forced community services that support vulnerable adults in the borough to enter a competitive bid to win contracts rather than gain funding from grants.

The tendering process was called in by Richmond’s Liberal Democrats due to fears for the futures of several charities.

Conservatives dismissed the Liberal Democrat warnings as “scare-mongering” and the scheme was given the go-ahead.

Leader of the opposition Councillor Stephen Knight said the extra funding announcement was a “panicked u-turn at the 11th hour”.

He said: “The Tories’ competitive tendering process for the voluntary sector has ended in a complete mess. Now they’ve been forced into a humiliating and expensive panic u-turn in order to stop two day centres from closing at the end of the month.

“We, and many in the voluntary sector, have warned for months that the removal of grant funding and the introduction of commercial rents for voluntary sector day centres couples with a competitive tendering exercise for funding would lead to closures.”

Coun Knight said the process had been costly and distressing for the charities involved and the council should work with them rather than make them compete for contracts.

Deputy leader of the council Councillor Geoffrey Samuel said he was not sure why Barnes Green was left out but said Linden Hall failed to even enter a bid and that the extra cost was justified.

He said: “When the dust settled there were a couple of day centres that were left out.

“We were not prepared to let the people of Hampton suffer. We have rescued it. It’s as simple as that. There was a danger of them shutting but we wouldn’t let them close in any case.

“You have to put money into the transition. So yes we said at the beginning we would put in sufficient money to ease the transition.”

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