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Safety groups fearing for their future following proposal to remove funding

Brian Topping as chairman of the Fraserburgh safety group is worried about council proposals to change the funding to safety groups and fears this may spell the end for these groups.
Picture of (L-R) Brian Topping and Bill Mowat.
Brian Topping as chairman of the Fraserburgh safety group is worried about council proposals to change the funding to safety groups and fears this may spell the end for these groups. Picture of (L-R) Brian Topping and Bill Mowat.

The leaders of north-east community safety groups are concerned that proposals to change their funding frameworks could threaten their futures.

Aberdeenshire Council proposes to change the structure to enable any organisation or individual leading a safety related project to apply for funding.

Fraserburgh Community Safety Group chairman Brian Topping said: “We only get £1,750 for the whole year and if you have money left over it’s rightfully deducted the next year.

“That money is usually ring-fenced and has to be spent within a theme but this proposal means any person just puts forward a detailed analysis of what they want to do and how it can improve safety.

“But for us safety groups we’re volunteers who deal with a huge range of issues – in Fraserburgh alone we’ve been given (money for) metal detectors for police, buying and maintaining defibrillators and ‘no drinking’ signs outside schools.

“Under the proposal anyone can apply for this unlimited funding and to me it feels like they are trying to get rid of safety groups.

“On the one hand volunteers are celebrated but now we’ve people questioning the point and we feel let down as we’ve not been consulted.

“We appreciate money is tight but now we’re actually wondering why do we bother when we might not be supported any more.”

The Banff and District Safety Group has also taken on many projects in its area over the years.

Member Mark Findlater said: “It’s only a proposal at the moment so nothing is set in stone and as it’s part of the process we will just have to see what happens.

“I remain optimistic even though it is quite worrying.

“Safety groups are good as people come to us when they have issues and we can help as we have the connections to make change happen.

“I will do my damndest to make sure this funding keeps going for our volunteers but I’ll wait to hear what officers say in the meeting.”

A meeting of the Aberdeenshire Council Community Safety Partnership will be held at 10am today to discuss the proposal.

Margaret-Jane Cardno, area manager for Garioch claimed the changes could be a “huge opportunity” for safety groups.

She said: “Yes, other groups and projects will be able to apply for grants but so will the community safety partnerships.

“In fact under the proposals proactive community safety partnerships could potentially secure an increase in funding as they will be able to apply for funding and match it with other funding streams rather than having a fixed allocation.”

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