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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Welsh Harp Environmental Education Centre

One of the smaller cuts proposed in Brent's budget papers is that of the Welsh Harp Environmental Education Centre

The Centre faced a similar threat back in 2011, when it was also proposed for a cut.  It was saved at the last moment as part of a series of amendments by Cllr Ann John.  This was achieved through a deal with Careys (which is the parent company of the recycling firm Seneca)  John Carey Jr had grown up in the area and had fond memories of the Centre, and got his firm to stump up a substantial part of the running cost.  More income is generated through lettings and Brent Council make up the rest.  The budget proposal is to delete Brent's contribution.

This actually seems to me to be an area where a Community Trust style solution might work.  I have been sceptical as to how these "community" arrangements applied to libraries, but the WHEEC seesm a different case.  It is already set up with a great deal of external funding already so it has a track record as an effective free standing organisation.  I can imagine it might be able to make up the difference through some combination of lettings, charging schools and individual philanthropic contributions.  As a non-Council body it could be better placed to apply for some grants, especially lottery funding.

My main fear is that such a solution could be lost in the wider Budget debate.  As the Environment and Neighbourhood Services Department is being abolished, there is likely to be a certain amount confusion as staff are reorganised.  Indeed I suspect the staff responsible for finding any solution are likely to be working out their redundancy notices.

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