Labour Council Pulls the Rug from Under the “Cultural Partnership”
At a very angry meeting of Reading’s Cultural Partnership last night, Labour Cabinet members announced that they were removing the dedicated £74,000 ring-fenced grant funding from the Cultural Partnership and taking it back into general Council funds.
The Cultural Partnership was founded during the time of the Conservative-led Council in order to attract and support all parts of Reading’s cultural community, helping it to prosper and grow in a creative and mutually supportive environment. To give it real decision making powers, a ring-fenced budget of £74,000 was allocated to the Partnership, in order that cultural projects and organisations could be awarded grants. As the cultural community were deciding on the grants rather than just a political party, the desire was that a wider, more diverse, group of people would benefit from the work of the partnership.
Cllr Andrew Cumpsty, Conservative Spokesman for Culture and Sport attended the meeting and summed up the angry mood last night by saying, “Those people who have worked hard to establish and grow the Cultural Partnership felt betrayed and shocked at the actions of the Labour Council in pulling all the grant-giving funding from the Cultural Partnership.”
“When the Conservatives led the Council, we believed in the Cultural community of Reading, which is why we started the Partnership and supported the grant funding powers. Labour made this decision without consulting any members of the partnership and I am afraid that it signals a return to the ‘Command and Control, we know best’ Labour Party. Why are they so afraid to allow the cultural community to have control?”
Amongst disarray at the meeting, Cllr Cumpsty intervened to suggest that the Labour Party go back to their Cabinet, rethink their decision and come back to the Cultural Partnership with a return to the original concept in September.
“The Labour Party now has a chance to re-think their idiotic decision”, said Cllr Cumpsty, “I just hope that on reflection that they agree with my firmly held conviction that it is the community and not Labour politicians who know best when it come to understanding our rich cultural offering in Reading”.
Conservative Group Leader Councillor Tim Harris said, “Once again Labour is removing power from the people who really know best. Since Labour regained majority control of the Council their old arrogance and centralising tendencies are showing themselves again. Conservative Councillors will continue to hold them to account and stand up for the majority of Reading residents.”