TOWN councillors have halted talk on paying half of the food bank’s rent costs after claiming they had been ‘blackmailed’ into the move by the district council.
A decision was deferred until September to allow ‘sensible discussions’ to take place between the two authorities after tensions over the issue have reached boiling point.
Malvern Town Council’s Policy and Resources committee had previously recommended to pay the costs which amount to £6,560 spread over three years, despite claiming the request from MHDC was engineered by Tory deputy leader Paul Swinburn trying to score political points of Democratic Group leader Julian Roskams, who is also the town mayor.
Concerns were also raised despite the food bank predominantly serving residents in the town it was also available to the enitire district.
But last week’s full town council meeting saw angry reactions to the move.
Coun Helen I’Anson said it was ‘appalling’ the district council charged rent for the Spring Lane premises in the first place.
“Why and how they can morally do that for something they own which is managed and run by volunteers, I simply don’t understand,” she added.
“The district council should let us know why they charge rent?”
Coun Peter Smith said: “This is blackmail to place this on the town council. This is very serious. It is like somebody been kidnapped, you pay a ransom and it just goes on.
“It shows a gross lack of integrity for the district council to charge rent. We should make a stand over this.”
The move to delay the decision was put forward by Coun Ian Hopwood who said the district council should be made aware of the hostility towards them over the matter.
In response Coun Swinburn, said: “It’s a shame that Malvern Town Council haven’t been able to come to an agreement.
“As previously stated we already subsidise the rent of the Malvern Hills Food Bank in Spring Lane by more than a third.
“We continue to believe that the town council should pay half of the remaining rent for three years because more than four-fifths of the food bank’s clients come from Malvern itself.”
Chris Bray, the chairman of the service, said the food bank were grateful of the district council’s support and reiterated the figures which show the majority of clients come from the town.