DEBATE has raged over the funding of a hugely-successful scheme to get people back into work in Selsey which currently faces an uncertain future.
One Chichester district councillor accused his fellow members of ‘madness’ for not pledging money to safeguard Selsey Works.
Two words come to my mind, one is madness and the other is timidJoseph Ransley, county councillor
The community service has helped more than 600 people find jobs since beginning just over a year ago, but with no extra funding in place it is having to move and could see services reduced.
An evaluation report found that Selsey Works had saved the public purse nearly £1.2m and raised £105,000 in just a year, and that £12,000 a year of funding was needed to pay staff costs.
Speaking at Tuesday’s Chichester District Council cabinet meeting, Cllr Joseph Ransley said “Two words come to my mind, one is madness and the other is timid.
“Madness because when I look at the report and see the funds created were £100,000 and along with £1.2m savings in the purse, we should be grasping this like there’s no tomorrow.
“Hence my next point is timid. What are you doing, what does this recommendation say? Why aren’t we here thumping our fists on the table saying cabinet should be endorsing more than just good words, but £12,000 if that’s what they’re seeking.”
Selsey Works grew out of a Chichester District Council pilot scheme to work with local groups to improve things like education, transport and employment opportunities in the town.
The district council provided initial funding with the hope that it would generate its own revenue. That has not happened and it will have to move out of its current High Street location while a business plan for its future is devised.
The project was routinely praised by district councillors, along with the key role played by Selsey Town Council, and the report found there has been ‘excitement’ and ‘enthusiasm’ from the Selsey community involved.
Steve Hansford, head of community services, said that funding was potentially available to put a transitional service into the town council offices. “Believe me, councillor Ransley, if I thought it was that simple I would have asked for that money, but it’s how we support that in the long-term and how we replicate that in other areas,” he said. “This was a pilot, we thought we had money for two years but one partner withdrew...and we are therefore balancing how you deliver a model that will be sustainable.”
But Cllr Ransley responded: “We have to provide some financial support to enable a fantastic pilot scheme does not disappear down the pan, but actually transforms into a sustainable model.”
Cllr Eileen Lintill said that the success of the scheme in Selsey would see the Think Family Neighbourhood work replicated in other identified areas in Chichester East, South and Tangmere.
Cllr L Purnell said: “The whole thing overall has been successful but there is an issue over funding on a sustainability side of things.”
Leader Heather Caird added: “It’s a really important project which has been very successful, not just for Selsey but for the rest of the district where there are pockets of need.”
Members agreed to support Selsey Works in its transition and to continue supporting the Think Family Neighbourhood work.