CHAIRMEN of Thurrock community forums have reacted with outrage at the news that community champions Ngage are to lose all their funding.
Many are now concerned that the whole community forum will collapse like a pack of cards.
Orsett Community Forum folded in November and others are expected to follow.
The forum leaders have warned that such action could see Thurrock continue to languish at the bottom of the government “community cohesion” tables.
Chair of Stifford Forum, Len Orpin said:
“This news is devastating. Ngage is not just there to advise and support forums it also has a large membership of other community voluntary groups and individuals who will be affected by this cut.
Some of those groups might find it harder than the forums to cope. I think we should look at the bigger picture of the service ngage has carried out in the past as no other group has the experience in community involvement and consultation work as ngage.
Chair of Stanford Forum, Terry Piccolo a respected figure in the Thurrock community was also devastated by the news.
He said: “ngage have been the backbone of not only the Community Forums but also many other local groups. For this infrastructure support to be removed, without warning, will indeed cause problems for the forums.
“Whilst some Forums may be able to survive without the assistance of ngage the vast majority will struggle.
“The benefit to Thurrock Council the forums provide in ticking a lot of their targets when it comes to demonstrating to central government the commitment to community involvement, comes from the fact the forums cover the whole of Thurrock. Should a large number of forums fold this benefit will be lost.
“With the need for greater involvement of local people in proposed participatory budgeting that is to come into force in the next couple of years, is this Thurrock Councils method of undermining existing independent groups in favour of new groups which maybe more easily influenced?
Chair of Orchards forum,Mike Stone described the decision as “insane”.
He said: “The proposal to pull all funding is insane, the support that the team at Ngage have given to all community’s in Thurrock is excellent.
“Ngage won Best Company in the Community Award at the Thurrock Business Awards in 2008. Does that count for nothing?
“Now we know why we have one of the lowest council taxes in England !!
“I for one will be attending the cabinet meeting on Wednesday 17th to show my support for ngage.”