Croydon anti-knife crime projects have missed out on around £500,000 in Government funding because of an unseemly tug-of-war between Whitehall and Croydon Town Hall.
On Friday, the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government announced nearly £10million-worth of funding, allocated to 21 projects around the country through its Supporting Families Against Youth Crime fund, intended to help those vulnerable knife crime and gang culture.
Half the projects awarded cash are in London boroughs, many of which were given sums of around half a million pounds. The biggest single grant made under the scheme was £1.3million.
But not a penny was granted to Croydon, even though the borough has some of the worst knife crime issues in the country. Prominent anti-knife crime organisations, such as the charity Lives Not Knives, were not even made aware that such grant aid might be available to the right projects.
A Whitehall source has told Inside Croydon that the council did make a bid, but it was rejected.
Croydon Council officials drew up a bid for the Whitehall department that did not involve the police, any local community groups, schools or charities – such as those offering schemes to mentor vulnerable youngsters so that they stay in school and achieve their GCSEs, or provide youth club activities, as run throughout the borough by the Palace For Life Foundation and Gloves Not Gunz.
Instead, the Town Hall proposed that they should receive a chunk of the fund, and that Croydon Council would then oversee another, local bidding process, as a means of keeping closer control over the use of the money.
Croydon Council, our Whitehall source disclosed, “did submit a bid, but it was to run their own bidding process to give funding to the voluntary and community sector. Based on the timelines they gave, the bid was judged not to be realistic and it would have struggled to deliver sufficient results or value for money”.
A Katharine Street source said that this failure in the bid-writing process reflected badly on the council chief executive, Jo Negrini, and her executive directors.
“Rather than go to the voluntary groups and communities in the borough and encourage them to come up with projects that might need funding,” the source said, “someone at the council has decided that they wanted to add an extra tier to the process so that they could get their hands on the cash and control how it was distributed.
“As a result, Croydon’s youth groups have been left empty-handed. Brilliant.”
The Tory minister in charge at the Communities department administering the funding is James Brokenshire. Until December, his PPS, parliamentary private secretary, was Chris Philp, the Conservative MP for Croydon South.
And today, Philp has stepped in to offer to help the council come up with a pitch for the funding which might have more success.
“It is very disappointing that Croydon Council’s bid was judged inferior to 10 other London councils,” Philp told Inside Croydon.
“I would be happy to work with the council to make sure that future bids for this kind of thing are better constructed to improve their chances of success.”
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