Charities fear council axe

VULNERABLE residents quality of life will be at risk if North Somerset Council cuts vital funding - according to charity bosses.

VULNERABLE residents' quality of life will be at risk if North Somerset Council cuts vital funding - according to charity bosses.

Representatives from several voluntary groups appealed to councillors at a community services scrutiny panel last week not to slash their financial support.

The charities fear the council will axe the money as part of its drive to make up a £17million funding gap in its budget over the next two years.

The pleas from Voluntary Action North Somerset (VANS) and West of England Sport Trust come just weeks after Weston and District Community Transport and Weston Dial-a-Ride were warned by the council its funding maybe cut.

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Elderly and disabled people are the main users of many of the services and organisers warn they will lose out if the cash is not provided.

VANS director Linda Shaw told the panel the charity helped more than 800 individuals in the last financial year to access almost £2million funding.

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She said: "If our funding were withdrawn, the quality of those services would diminish and voluntary and community groups would be less effective.

"This would have an impact on the quality of life for many vulnerable North Somerset residents."

VANS currently receives more than £80,000 from the unitary authority.

West of England Sport Trust chief executive Steve Nelson was also present at the meeting where he appealed to councillors 'heads and hearts'.

Councillors set up a working group to discuss funding issues, but members of the public and Press were asked to leave after the final agenda item so they could meet in private to discuss the matter.

Scrutiny panel chairman Cllr Howard Roberts, said: "There are occasions when we do discuss things informally.

"No decisions were taken at the meeting. You feel a lot less inhibited discussing something if some people are not looking in.

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