Charity trustees sitting on a £1.4million fund to
help the Borough of Bedford gave away only £36,000 last year.
And this week councilors sitting on the committee were annoyed when
another worthy cause was refused a £10,000 grant after a mistake in
simple arithmetic went against them during a vote.
The House of Industry Estate Management committee awards grants for
those people and organizations in Bedford borough in need, hardship,
At the meeting it was revealed that the charity’s yearly account had
a balance standing at £1,372,952.37; an increase of £164,851.08 from
the previous year’s account.
Conservative Group Leader Cllr Nicky Attenborough, who is not a
trustee of the charity, has called on the Trust to
make £200,000 available each year to help out the needy in Bedford.
She said: “The Trust is sitting on a small fortune of more than
£1.3million and my message is quite simple, if the Trust is serious
about tackling poverty in the borough it needs to spend much more.
Only £36,534 was spent last year, lower than the three previous
“I want to see £200,000 made available each year to tackle poverty
in the borough, to improve the quality of life for disadvantaged
people in deprived communities.”
A Bedford Borough Council spokesman said: “The trustees of the House
of Industry at their next meeting are due to receive a report
recommending an increased annual spend in relation to grants to
individuals and groups to alleviate poverty in the Borough.
“The House of Industry has benefited from the upturn in the property
markets and a recent receipt due to land sales. The trustees have
made it plain they are keen to explore ways of enabling the most
needy in the borough to receive the benefits of their position.”
The House of Industry is a charity administered by the borough
council. It was set up in the nineteenth century to run the area’s
workhouses and owns land in Bedford, including part of Bedford Blues
rugby ground and the car park at the junction of Kimbolton Road and
At the same meeting a number of applications for funding grants were
made including one for £10,000 that was to be used for a door-to
door bus service in Bedford.
Nine trustee members sit on the committee, but Cllr Pat Olney left
the room as she had declared an interest in the matter.
When it came to the vote a count up revealed that the committee
voted four to three in favor of giving the money to the service and
it was therefore granted.
Trustee member Cllr Tony Hare then realized that eight people had
been voting and, as no one had abstained from the vote, a mistake
had been made.
After a quick consultation with council solicitor Michael Gough,
Cllr Roger Rigby declared the vote was tied and because he also held
the casting vote as chair, he rejected the application and the
funding was withdrawn.
Cllr Colleen Atkins who voted in favor of the money being awarded
said: “It’s worrying that such a fiasco can happen when charities
rely on funding from the Trust that can make or break them.
“We need to be giving money away to relieve people in hardship and
it is important that we do fulfill our objective.”