Lottery criticised for being biased
A COMMUNITY centre boss has criticised the National Lottery for being biased, as he tries to win cash to finance a community centre revamp.Brian Annis OBE, chairman of the Needham Market community centre management committee, said they provide a valuable service to many local groups and now want to extend the lounge, update the kitchen which is more than 20 years old and create more office space.
A COMMUNITY centre boss has criticised the National Lottery for being biased, as he tries to win cash to finance a community centre revamp.
Brian Annis OBE, chairman of the Needham Market community centre management committee, said they provide a valuable service to many local groups and now want to extend the lounge, update the kitchen which is more than 20 years old and create more office space.
But he fears the Lottery is biased against organisations like his and has lost sight of helping local communities.
The centre is seeking around £130,000 from the lottery and Mr Annis, from Grinstead Hill in Needham Market, said: "Naturally we have turned to the community fund for part of the necessary funding, only to find that the new criteria as set out in the grant application form is somewhat biased against organisations like ours.
"Needham Market does not have a significant non English community. It is not a deprived area. Many of the questions and criteria called for in the application form are not applicable to Needham Market and yet we are providing a valuable service to our community.
"We are not alone in this view and there are many examples throughout East Anglia of similar experiences.
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"We believe that the original concept of lottery funding for the benefit of the community has been lost and is being re-directed towards projects which perhaps should be receiving direct Government financial support.''
Mr Annis, has raised his concerns with local MP David Ruffley and said the community centre works closely with the elderly, disabled and disadvantaged.
Mr Ruffley said the community fund has made grants totalling £32 million a year for rebuilding village halls since 1994, but the funding has now declined to £17 million.
He said: "Village halls are a vital focal point of rural life. Many were built decades ago and are now falling in to disrepair necessitating expensive repairs which are beyond the reach of local fundraising activities.
"The community fund has provided some funding for some excellent schemes in my constituency, but I am concerned that the trend is now to divert more money towards schemes in urban areas."
Lynn Morgan, regional manager for the community fund, said: "There is a perception that we are openly funding extreme projects for those in deprivation, that is not true. We are turning down many good applications simply because we do not have enough money.
"Last year we had a £12.5 million budget for the region and have about £2.7 million to village halls and community centres. They are one tiny area of the work we fund, but got quite a high proportion of the money available.''
Needham Market community centre is still seeking funds from the lottery and it is hoped may still secure some finances.