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4th Jul, 2022

'Party politics' claims sour food bank's rental victory

Malvern Editorial 18th Jun, 2014 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

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UPDATE:  On Tuesday night (June 17) Malvern Town Council deferred a decision on whether to pay half of the rent costs for the food bank, until its next meeting in September, to allow further talks to take place with Malvern Hills District Council. The full story will be posted on www.malvernobserver.co.uk in the next 48 hours.

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THE MALVERN Hills Food Bank is set to be freed of rent costs for three years.

But despite the news for the much-valued charity, the move has been sullied by allegations of political gamesmanship between the district and town councils which will both foot the £13,120 bill.

Malvern Town Councillors questioned why they had been asked to pay half of the rent by the district council which is the landlord of the unit in Spring Lane, arguing the council only represented a tenth of residents the food bank serves.

The move was first put to the district council in May by Julian Roskams, who is leader of the authority’s Democratic group and also Mayor of Malvern Town Council.

It was agreed but only after Coun Paul Swinburn, deputy leader of the Tory controlled authority, pushed for an amendment for both council’s to split the cost equally.

Last Wednesday (June 11) the town council’s policy and resources committee agreed to pay half of the costs.

They were told on the night 515 vouchers out of a total 731 handed out by the food bank since it started had been to residents living in the town.

Mayor Roskams said: “The district council said they would be delighted to give support but only if the town council did the same. We are a tenth the size of the district so it is a little bit unfair.

“There is some serious party politics going on. I suspect if somebody else had of brought the motion forward it may not have been amended.”

Coun Helen I’Anson summed up the feeling of the committee, expressing admiration for the food bank but disappointment about the way the request for funding had come about.

“We have got to give them the money we can’t sit on it and not give to the needy,” she said. “It is a great shame the district council is playing politics with people in dire need of the foodbank. I think it’s appalling.”

Following the decision Coun Swinburn said: “We are pleased that the town council have taken up our suggestion because it recognises that more than four-fifths of the food bank’s clients come from Malvern itself.

“This partnership funding supports the tremendous voluntary work being undertaken and ensures families and individuals who are struggling to afford their shopping will not go hungry in our district.”

Chris Bray, the chairman of the food bank, described the decision as ‘brilliant news’. Last week the service welcomed more than 30 guests for a ‘thank you’ event to show appreciation to all who had supported the service since it began.

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