Agenda item


The Chairman, Councillor Dark invited Councillor Hudson to present the call in of Cabinet Members Delegated Decision – Financial Assistance Small Grants Scheme.


Councillor Hudson addressed the Panel and outlined the reasons why she had called the Cabinet Member’s decision in as set out below.


“I submitted my call in of the grant to Bridges for Heroes (BfH) on the following points:


  • We need to know more about the budget and overall funding.
  • Who is running the project.
  • Are the people involved properly qualified.
  • Why is this project being limited to one particular group.
  • To use a title of " Reminiscence Project" is misleading.
  • To focus on Operation Banner brings in to question that this particular project is still under scrutiny.


The COE, Ray Harding, allowed the call in on the question of budget and funding. It was his thought that the other points had been answered by Cllr Nockolds email, dated 26 June. However, the Chairman asked that I comment on all points of the call-in.


The application for funding is unclear on how the scheme will operate. It states a fully qualified practitioner will run the groups. What does this mean. If BfH have run these sort of courses in the past, as is implied, they should know who will be leading and what their qualifications are. 


No timetable has been presented for the project, although we are told that the volunteers receiving tutoring in how to conduct such sessions will receive  3 by 2 hour sessions over 6 months.


I would question the validity of this as full training.


I am also concerned about the aim of the project as it concentrates on Northern Ireland. According to the grant application 4050 persons will benefit from this course over a period of time.  This figure, in my opinion, is suspect. Possibly a tying error?


My main concern is the finance applied for. They didn't apply for a grant towards costs but a grant for all of the money, being £2307.00.  This was reduced by the panel to £2,000.00.


We have been asked to pay for 73 hours of staff costs at £18 per hour; total £1,524.00


When compared to National Wage Rate of £8.21 or Living wage -£9 .00, this is double that amount.


The 9 hours training for volunteers is also charged at £18 per hour.  Questions the type of training.?


Office expenses are charged at £20 per hour for 24 hours.


These charges are not justified.  The application does not provide enough information and should the Council really be paying out this sort of money when we pay our own back office works between £9.19 and £10.67.


In rebuttal to questions - It is seen that we all support the Armed Forces but we should know more about the working of the groups who apply for funding.”


The Chairman thanked Councillor Hudson for presenting the reasons for the call-in and provided the Panel with an overview of Operation Banner who would be celebrating their 50th anniversary nationally on 14 August 2019 and also reminded Members that the Borough Council had signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant.


At the invitation of the Chairman, the Portfolio Holder, Culture, Heritage and Health commented that valid points had been raised regarding the funding.  The Portfolio Holder advised that she attended the Armed Forces Norfolk Board meeting whose main aims were to encourage local communities to support the armed forces community in the area.  The project nurtured public awareness and recognised sacrifices and encouraged active integration of armed forces within the community.  The Portfolio Holder reminded Members of the content of the email she had circulated to all Councillors and highlighted that the project was a continuation of the important work already undertaken by Bridge For Heroes charity.  The Panel was informed that the proposed project was an Operation Banner supported project.


The Executive Director, Financial Services reminded Members that the Financial Assistance Small Grants Scheme report was attached at page 13 of the Agenda.  The Executive Director explained that all applications were assessed by an external body – the Norfolk Community Foundation on behalf of the Borough Council prior to being evaluated by the Portfolio Holder, Culture, Heritage and Health, the Executive Director, Financial Services and the Partnership and Funding Officer.  It was highlighted that all required checks were undertaken in relating to safeguarding.


The Chairman invited the Panel to ask questions/comment.


Councillor Bambridge referred to a family Prisoner of War experience and emphasised that talking to others in similar circumstances and reminiscing helped people.  Councillor Bambridge commented that the Panel should look at the project and people it would assist rather than the organiser.


Councillor Humphrey commented on the word “reminiscence” and added that this could be misleading.  Councillor Humphrey explained that after reading the details of the project and listening to the Portfolio Holder and the definition of “reminiscence”, he thought that the project would enormously help the service personnel.  Councillor Humphrey stated that the proposal amount for the qualified practitioner was entirely justified and supported the grant to the Bridge the Heroes charity.


Councillor Tyler commented that he fully supported the project and the Cabinet Member’s decision.


Councillor Ryves stated that the meaning of reminiscence was confusing in the context of the project and also commented that the regiments in Northern Ireland had a close connection to the Royal Anglians.


In response to a question on the exhibitions, it was noted that the aim of the exhibitions was to bring generations together to aid understanding of their lives, mental health issues and experiences of the British Armed Forces in Northern Ireland.


Councillor Collop advised that he had supported the call-in and that he had never heard of the Bridge for Heroes charity and added that there was not enough information provided and therefore it was correct to call it in.  Councillor Collop stated that he would had like to have seen a representative from the charity attend the Panel meeting.


Councillor Middleton informed the Panel that he was a volunteer/trustee but did not receive any monetary payment.  In response to the comments made by Councillor Humphrey, Councillor Middleton provided background to the Bridge For Heroes charity and explained that the project provided an opportunity for service personnel  who had served in Northern Ireland to share stories/experiences.  Councillor Middleton referred to the response from the Portfolio Holder, Culture, Heritage and Health and commented that reminisce was the correct word for the project. 


In response to questions and comments from the Panel, Councillor Middleton advised that “reminisce” was part of a therapy proven tool to treat PDST and mental health related problems.  A qualified reminiscing practitioner would run the sessions and also train volunteers to gain skills to enable beneficiaries to share their stories through specific military resources.  Councillor Middleton reiterated that the grant applications were initially assessed by the an external body, Norfolk Community Foundation and he was comfortable with the financial grant to be awarded to Bridge For Heroes.


Councillor Ayres commented that with any project there would be on costs and added that the word reminisce qualified a person to speak about, share their problem allow it to be recognised and receive advice to deal with it.  Councillor Ayres thanked Councillor Middleton for the background information and providing a summary of the project.


Under Standing Order 34, Councillor Kunes asked that if the Council did not approve the grant what sort of message would it send out to the armed forces – that the Council was not caring.  Councillor Kunes advised that he fully supported the project.


The Chairman reiterated to the Panel that the Borough Council had signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant.  The Chairman also stated that the Panel had received more information on the charity from Councillors Mrs Nockolds and Middleton.  Members were advised that the Bridge For Heroes worked in strict accordance within the criteria set out by the Charity Commission and concluded by saying that if the project helped support people readjust when leaving the armed forces then he supported the project.


The Chairman invited Councillor Mrs Hudson to summarise the reasons why she had called in the decision.


Councillor Hudson summarised her reasons and highlighted that it was proposed to pay £18.00 - £20.00 per hour for back office staff which was more than Borough Council back office staff received.  Councillor Hudson emphasised that other charities sought a contribution not the whole cost of a project and felt that this would set a precedent.  Councillor Hudson advised that she had viewed the Bridge For Heroes financial report and quoted the following figures – income £137,600, expenditure £121,000 which left a significant reserve.  In conclusion, Councillor Hudson quoted that she would like to see the budget for the project and how it would be spent.


The Chairman explained that the Charity Commission would expect to see a reserve being held by any registered charity.


The Chairman thanked Councillor Hudson for presenting the call-in.


The Panel voted on supporting the Cabinet Member’s decision.


Councillor Collop abstained from voting on the following decision.


RESOLVED:  The Panel supported the Cabinet Member’s decision.


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