Alliance Belfast City Council representatives seeking meeting with Audit Office after diversionary funding granted to organisation which did not meet relevant criteria

Alliance Belfast City Council representatives have contacted the Audit Office after bonfire diversionary funding was granted to an organisation which did not meet agreed criteria threshold.

Belfast City Council Bonfires Sam Nelson
Alliance Councillors had previously proposed a different scheme due to the number of organisations applying for the diversionary money which did not meet the criteria. Although the party’s proposal for a capacity-building scheme to assist community groups had previously been accepted by other parties, it has since been referred back to the Council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee twice by the DUP, before being officially overturned today (Wednesday) thanks to a U-turn from Sinn Féin.
Councillor Sam Nelson said it was a disappointing decision which went against the Council’s need for openness and transparency with ratepayers’ money.
“Alliance has continually pushed for more openness and transparency at Belfast City Council, especially when it comes to the use of ratepayers’ money,” said the North Belfast Councillor.
“So it is disappointing to once again be talking about another funding decision being pushed through despite the organisation not meeting the agreed criteria threshold. Alliance’s initial proposal would have not only helped tackle the issue around bonfires but helped organisations who apply for funding to do that on a long-term basis instead of the annual sticking plaster approach currently employed.
“Other parties initially accepted that but have since U-turned. Both ourselves and the SDLP raised concerns about the Council stepping outside the agreed funding process, but others pushed ahead today to meet the needs of one particular organisation. Councillors were informed by the PSNI there could be a risk of violence if the funding was not awarded in this way but as political leaders, we can never allow the threat of violence to make decisions for us.
“Alliance has contacted the Audit Office to seek a meeting on this matter. It is unacceptable Belfast ratepayers have to continue funding the Council’s diversionary scheme in its current form, which avoids dealing with the problem and results in a party carve-up each year, instead of a previously-agreed proposal which is for the good of everyone applying.”