I’m aware that a number of mistruths are being circulated around about this, so in the interests of fairness I thought you might like a true account of events.
When Springboard opened they decided to take on a commercial property at a commercial rent. At this time all the risks were highlighted to them, but they decided to take on the property nonetheless and various public sector organisations provided grant funding to help set the property up and pay for some of the running costs.
Last year I met with the new chief executive of the charity who flagged up that they were in financial difficulties, that he understood the circumstances under which the charity had taken on the property but they they were struggling. At the time I agreed to look at freezing the rent and guaranteeing the council’s grant funding for a number of years and I was given to understand that that might be enough to ensure the charity’s presence in the town. I looked into it and reported back that we could commit to such an arrangement.
When I met with the chief executive again in February I was informed that the charity’s financial position had worsened and that freezing the rent and guaranteeing the grant would not be enough for the charity to be able to maintain its presence in Crawley. I said that we weren’t in a position to commit to the tens of thousands of pounds in additional funding which were requested, but that we’d be willing to form part of a solution alongside WSCC and the CCG who have legal responsibility for the groups Springboard works with.
For some reason this was not seen to be seen as an acceptable solution and I did not hear anything further until I was informed Springboard were closing.
Springboard are not closing because we were increasing the rent (despite their signing up to that contract), nor because of any cuts to their grant funding by CBC but because their financial position worsened due to the loss of a major donor and Crawley Borough Council were not in a place to make up the gap without the support of the two organisations legally responsible for Springboard’s client group.
It is very sad that the charity is closing but it is not though any unreasonable behaviour on the council’s part, particularly when you consider we were the only organisation which expressed a willingness to help despite having no formal remit to do with Springboard’s work.
Cllr Peter Lamb
Leader, Crawley Borough Council