£124k funding boost for Mid and East Antrim PCSP

Alderman Gregg McKeen, chair of Mid and East Antrim PCSP. INLT 11-019-PSB
Alderman Gregg McKeen, chair of Mid and East Antrim PCSP. INLT 11-019-PSB

Some Larne-based community groups who had PCSP budgets slashed recently could be thrown a funding lifeline, it has emerged.

The Department of Justice has announced its intention to reinstate £124,234 to Mid and East Antrim Policing and Community Safety Partnership, as part of a £1.5m funding pot for PCSPs across Northern Ireland.

This represents nearly three-quarters of the balance of monies offered at the start of this financial year.

Earlier this year, the Department cut MEA PCSP’s budget from £340,026 to £170,013, leaving it with only £7,140 left uncommitted and available to support its work until March, 2016.

As a result, community groups Preventing Addiction Larne (PAL), Mid and East Antrim Agewell Partnership (MEAAP), Larne YMCA and Seacourt Youth Club were forced to curtail community projects on issues such as substance misuse counselling, anti-bullying, crime reduction and a youth club.

Some groups have now been approached again by the PCSP, with money being made available for projects which can be carried out before the end of the financial year in March.

If the DOJ approves the projects proposed by the PCSP, the money will be released.

PCSP chairman Alderman Gregg McKeen acknowleged that while the DOJ funding boost was a positive step, the continual changes by the department to the PCSP budget had led to the PCSP being managed in a “chaotic way”.

“It’s disappointing the way it has been done, but I’m very glad we’ve got the funding now,” he said.

“We have to take the positive out of this.

“It’s money we didn’t think we would get.”

Despite the extra money, the PCSP’s remaining budget still falls far short of the original funding allocation.

As a result, not all of the projects which the PCSP had originally committed to funding will be reinstated.

“We will be able to cover most of the projects which we originally thought would have to be cut, although some won’t be covered due to the short time frame for spending the money,” continued Ald McKeen.

“It’s unfortunate that there is still a funding gap.

“We are being allocated an amount at this stage, some of those projects will be starting but will there be the funds next year or enhance them to the next level?” he asked.

“MEA PCSP wants to be able to put out an open call for community groups or other organisations to say funding is available and they can apply to the PCSP if they meet the criteria.

“The current reinstated funding isn’t going out for open call due to the time constraints.

“After the last cut we were left with a £7,140 surplus which was just enough to cover staff and running costs.”

Ald McKeen also revealed that the local PCSP had not yet received any assurances from the DOJ regarding the security of next year’s PCSP budget.

“This year has been the most piecemeal due to the transition from three PCSPs to one with the council restructuring, the Stormont crisis and budget cuts, it has been a difficult year,” Ald McKeen continued.

“We will be meeting with representatives from the Department for planning purposes, we need to start and see where the funds will be coming from.”

Mid and East Antrim PCSP is one of 11 PCSPs in NI, with the aim of engaging and empowering communities and developing solutions in partnership to tackle crime, fear of crime and anti-social behaviour.

The organisation is comprised of political and independent members, as well as representatives from statutory agencies such as PSNI, Housing Executive, Probation Board, Northern Health Trust, NI Fire and Rescue Service, the Education Authority and the Youth Justice Agency.

To contact Mid and East Antrim Policing and Community Safety Partnership, call manager Wendy Carson on 028 2826 3045 or email wendy.carson@midandeastantrim.gov.uk