Race watchdog's funding 'devastation'

SUFFOLK'S already struggling race relations watchdog is today devastated.Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (Iscre) has been denied thousands of pounds in funding – and is in real danger of closing.

SUFFOLK'S already struggling race relations watchdog is today devastated.

Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (Iscre) has been denied thousands of pounds in funding - and is in real danger of closing.

The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) yesterday announced it would pull funding altogether from Suffolk's leading race relations organisation next financial year.

It had already slashed this financial year's grant by around 45 per cent - from £47,000 to £26,000.

Iscre, which had asked for £133,000 from the CRE to see it through the next three years, did not even know of yesterday's announcement until told by The Evening Star.

Vice-president Harold Mangar said: "I am extremely disappointed that 30 years of hard work seems to be being thrown away by the commission.

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"I am feeling devastated and more or less dumbstruck. I think it will have a devastating effect on the people we work with. There is nowhere else in Suffolk like this.

"If we don't have any other funding, we may try to struggle on for a year and then we will have to close."

He thought the CRE was killing off local race equality councils and added the CRE is also withholding the final instalment of last year's grant - around £7,000.

Founder member Albert Grant said: "Iscre is the linchpin for the black and ethnic minority community in Suffolk. They have just pulled the funding from a group that was working pretty well. What does that say - that they don't care about black and ethnic minority people?

"I am hoping something will turn up so we don't lose 30 years of work. I hope it won't go like many other race equality councils, up and down the country, that have closed.

"The government has treated us with pure contempt. We would have thought we would have found out before the paper.

"It is a very sad day for Suffolk. A very sad day."

Iscre, which also receives money from several local authorities, said it would be looking to approach other bodies for funding.

A spokeswoman for the CRE said it was not aiming to close such organisations down, but said Iscre's application had not met their funding criteria.

She said four priority areas have to be met to get money - encouraging leadership among marginalised voices within ethnic minorities such as women or young people, bringing together different communities, resolving conflict and helping alienated communities such as gypsies, travellers or asylum seekers.

She said: "It is a stringent process. We received applications for £14.3 million (for next financial year) and there is only £4m to go around.

"Obviously it's a shame if the organisation shuts down, but if they haven't met stringent funding criteria, there isn't a lot we can say. If Iscre did close down, it might be that the CRE would have to find other partners in the area."

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