Community trust launches withering attack on lottery after £1m funding application is rejected
A community is venting its fury at lottery bosses after it had a £1 million bid rejected after spending four years and £200,000 on a funding application.
Ambitious plans to transform a derelict area of Linwood in Renfrewshire into a thriving community hub have now been left in the lurch after the country’s biggest funder knocked back the plans.
Linwood Community Development Trust’s (LCDT) proposals for a £3m redevelopment of the area are now on hold as the community furiously tries to recoup the £1m it hoped to recieve from Big Lottery Fund Scotland.
Community activists tabled the bid alongside an application for £800,000 of Scottish Government funding.
Cash would create an urban village including a community hall and an all-weather football pitch with changing facilities, a theatre and a community growing area.
However after a four-year process, community activists have slammed lottery bosses for wasting their time and vital cash.
Lottery bosses said the application was not as viable as others in the area. They also said similar facilites existed nearby.
This was the community’s second rejection from the lottery in six months.
Jeanette Anderson, LCDT chair, said they were “absolutely shattered” by the news. She added: “From what we have heard from the Lottery, it thinks the council (Renfrewshire) and Renfrewshire Leisure aren’t doing their jobs, therefore we don't get funding.
“This is so unfair and no one can understand why this decision has been made.
"In the first application the lottery said there were design issues. When we showed the design team the feedback they were adamant there was no fault on their side.
“We went back to the lottery and said someone has got it wrong here. The Lottery response was jaw dropping. It said: ‘we are not prepared to comment.’"
Sharon Anne Ross, secretary of the trust and who runs a local business, said she couldn’t believe the business reason for rejection.
She hit out: “I wouldn’t even have started my business if I followed the lottery logic,” she told TFN.
"It doesn’t want to fund anything if there is a risk, without even looking at how we intend to manage that risk.
“These people don’t have a clue. They would rather organisations spend all their time trying to get grants from one year to another rather than generate income and get on with what people in Linwood want.”
They would rather organisations spend all their time trying to get grants from one year to another - Sharon Ann Ross
Feedback returned to LCDT said there were “stronger propositions coming through and in areas that are lacking community assets entirely”. Lottery bosses also said there were similar facilities in the area.
The feedback concluded: “To put your application in context, we currently have over £20m of proposals in development for community assets and an available budget for the remainder of this financial year of £4.4m.
“The committee has very difficult decisions to make as it is unable to fund all applications that are presented to it.”
Kirsty Flannigan, LCDT manager, said they would still go ahead with the project.
“This is not the first time the trust and Linwood has been unfairly dealt with,” she said. “The football pitch will be built, the nursery businesses will go ahead, our grocer's roots will grow and we will invest £1.6m in Linwood.
“Questions are already being raised in the Linwood community and beyond, if the lottery won’t back Linwood, why should Linwood back the lottery?”
A spokesperson for Big Lottery Scotland told TFN: “We understand that this news is very disappointing for the trust and recognise they have invested a great deal of time and commitment in applying for our funding.
"Unfortunately we cannot fund all projects that apply to us. Our committee judged that with two other facilities close by, a new third community building did not offer value for money and they also had concerns for the on-going sustainability of the project.
“In the last two years we have supported Linwood CDT with development funding of £105,046 to help them to work up their full application(s) for funding.
"Development funding is not a guarantee of a full capital award. Applying for National Lottery funding from the Big Lottery Fund is a competitive process for all applicants, currently the success rate for community assets funding stands at 64%.”