Elephant crisis continues

Southwark Council has terminated its funding agreement with the Elephant Links Community Forum relating to the Single Regeneration Budget (SRB).

The Forum has been advised to cease all SRB activity and hand over to the council all records and assets associated with the SRB programmes for which it has been responsible. The council is the accountable body for the Elephant Links SRB project and is taking this action after continued refusal to comply with requests to see records.

Cllr Catherine Bowman, Executive Member for Regeneration and Economic Development, said: "The Forum has left us with no option but to stop SRB funding. I am very disappointed that the group set up to work for the community has apparently let down the very people it is meant to represent.

"We must now make sure that every effort is made to involve local people in the regeneration of our area. As a leading member of the Partnership Board, the council must ensure that measures are in place to keep genuine community involvement at the heart of this project."

Over the last two years, the Community Forum has received a large amount of SRB funding to help the local community. It is Southwark Council's responsibility to make sure this money is spent as it was intended.

Around 186,000 was given for one particular project and the Forum has been refusing for two months to allow partnership officers to inspect and verify that expenditure.

The London Development Agency, which is ultimately responsible for this programme, supports the council's actions.

It has urged the forum to co-operate with the council and supported the action it has taken to bring this matter to a successful conclusion. Despite these clear instructions the Forum still refused to comply.

The council's Director of Regeneration, Paul Evans said: "The Community Forum has given the council no option but to bring its programme to an end. This is a regrettable situation but absolutely necessary if we are to ensure the continuation of government funding into Southwark's most deprived areas.

He added: "But we still strongly support the involvement of all sections of the community in the continuing regeneration of the Elephant and Castle Area. The Board has been asked to develop new proposals to secure that involvement."

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