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Church Enhancement Threatened By Lottery Fund Fiasco

October 8, 2003 4:53 PM

Plans to enhance parts of the churchyard and pavement around the historic St Cuthbert's church, in the heart of Bedford, look set to fail following huge delays in providing the promised cash by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The scheme which was first touted in 1996 when it successfully won a grant from the Lottery fund to pay for 80% of the costs to improve areas of the well known site. However now six years on the Lottery fund has still not stumped up the cash which would allow the scheme to go ahead. The delays have meant that escalating costs now put the project at £201,000, way above the initial costs of £99,500. The increase has been blamed on the delays to the start of the scheme which was put on hold until funding was received. Despite this the Lottery fund has maintained it will not increase its original grant to meet the escalating costs and the scheme now looks doomed to failure.

Speaking on the issue Lib Dem Group Leader Michael Headley said:

"Its scandalous that the Heritage lottery fund can award a grant and yet six years down the line still have not made any payment on it. They promised to pay 80% of the costs for improvements and repairs to this historic local building. Now all they are offering is 40% due to the escalating costs being caused by their delays and this still isn't finally agreed."

"We have seen episode after episode of mind blowing incompetence as they have lost correspondences and made endless bureaucratic demands for information. This attitude is ridiculous considering the commitment of people locally. Week in week out the lottery fund is boosted by lottery ticket sales in Bedford. Its high time we got something back."

"With the lottery fund also stating that it won't make up the differences caused by this shambles, it's now predicted that these improvements won't be able to take place. The borough always seems to miss out on this lottery funding but when the money has actually been promised but not paid out that's just outrageous."