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Towns ‘missing out on Lottery millions’

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HUCKNALL and other parts of Ashfield are missing out on millions of pounds from National Lottery funding, a shock survey has revealed.

The astonishing claims are made by the Industrial Community Alliance, which represents councils in the industrial areas of England, Scotland and Wales.

It says too much Lottery lolly has gone to prestige projects, mostly in the big cities, and to art galleries, museums, theatres and opera houses.

There has been too much Lottery funding for bricks-and-mortar heritage and too little to people, it asserts.

News of the potential shortfall hits particularly hard when community organisations and local projects are struggling at a time of economic downturn and being forced to deal with funding cuts.

The Alliance adds that too little has been devoted to community-based initiatives, while too little attention is paid to supporting grant applications from the most disadvantaged communities.

The organisation claims that Ashfield has lost £26 million it was possibly entitled to between 1995, when the Lottery started, and last year. Gedling, which includes the villages of Newstead, Bestwood, Papplewick and Linby, was under-funded from the Lottery to the tune of £33 million for the same period, the Alliance maintains. A spokesman said: “In these hard-pressed times, when spending cuts often mean local services are under threat, communities cannot afford to lose Lottery money.

“The government and the Lottery distributors need to ensure that all communities get their fair share of funding.

“Good progress was made towards a fairer distribution during the early 2000s, when the Coalfield Communities Campaign led a highly effective initiative to highlight under-funding of former mining areas.

“But now the inequalities have widened once again. Since the Lottery began, the total loss of funding to Britain’s industrial communities has probably been about £3 billion — or £200 million a year.”

A spokeswoman for Ashfield District Council said: “It is not true that we have lost the amount given by the Alliance on unclaimed Lottery funding.

“But unfortunately the ‘rules of the game’ make it less likely that Lottery funding is distributed evenly across the country.

“It must be stressed that the Alliance is not pointing the finger at local authorities, quite the contrary. It is highlighting that geographical location apparently influences distribution of funding.

“Of course, we are therefore supporters of its approach to press the government for a review of the rules relating to the way Lottery money is distributed.”

Hucknall Conservative MP Mark Spencer said he was surprised to hear about the findings of the Alliance’s survey. But he stressed: “It should not be forgotten that Lottery money played a major part in the regeneration of Newstead after the loss of its colliery.”

The village received more than £1 million from the Lottery for its healthy living centre and other revitalising projects.

A Gedling Borough Council spokesman said it was unclear how the Alliance had come up with its figures. “That makes it difficult for us to comment,” he added.

The Alliance’s statistics show that Nottingham, which includes Bulwell, has received £55 million above the national average of funding from the Lottery.

But Bulwell’s Labour MP, Graham Allen, said Nottingham had been awarded less than rival cities like Leeds and Manchester.

He added that figures from the Department of Media, Culture and Sport showed that the East Midlands got ‘significantly less’ from the Lottery than the south-east of the country and the West Midlands.

Mr Allen mentioned Headway, which supports victims of brain damage, as an example of an organisation in urgent need of Lottery money as its other funding had fallen dramatically.

 

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