Cllr Michael Long said: “Whilst we are most supportive of the work of these organisations, Alliance feel that there needs to be an open and transparent process for the reallocation of a non-allocated, non-recurring underspend and so we opposed the DUP and Sinn Fein proposal to supply interim funding to these groups in the absence of proper criteria or a clear process. Basically, these organisations wrote into the Council and I am sure if other groups knew they could have done this, they would have skipped the laborious form filling process for most Council funding. It appears that the Council is endorsing a first come first served approach to this matter.
“We want all future funding processes to be open to all and to have clear and transparent criteria rather than a free for all, as seems to be the case now. Sinn Fein, in particular, seem keen to follow this ad hoc arrangement which is disappointing as there is no strategic direction being applied. We did call for £260,000 to be provided for Community Development grants which will help many local groups in a process which is both clear and transparent.
“The responsibility for funding these groups should lie with OFMDFM and the Council should not have to intervene. We requested that we wait until OFMDFM make a decision before we step in but now OFMDFM are seemingly free to abdicate their responsibility in the short term. Moreover, the Council itself faces a shortfall in funding from central government in relation to the new powers it will assume in April and so we need to give serious consideration as to how best we use this money.”