Groundhog Day. Again. And again.
Well, here we are again. Trying to work out what Network Wapping are up to. Trouble is if we don’t do it no one else will. So let’s stop whinging and get on with it shall we?
As you will probably know the last time Network Wapping submitted an application to become a Neighbourhood Planning Forum (NPF) they withdrew at the last minute. Probably because they had been told that with 150 objections to their plan, one neutral and only one in favour they were, to use a technical expression, stuffed.
It’s called the democratic process. Or it would have been if Network Wapping had not withdrawn their application. Bit like having an election and when the sole candidate is told they have absolutely no chance whatsoever of winning even though there is no one standing against them so they withdraw. So technically they were not defeated.
And now Network Wapping has made another NPF application. That seems virtually identical to the first one. And that means that you need to have a look at it and then express your opinion on it.
Because Network Wapping really do not like people who disagree with them. If you have attended any of their meetings you will realise what I mean by this.
Agree to agree
Network Wapping only want you to agree with them. Maybe someone should tell them life isn’t like that?
In case it wasn’t bad enough that Network Wapping decided to ignore the views of, well, everyone, and then go through the whole thing again they also decided they would like some cash to help them do it. Nice.
Don’t get me wrong, any organisation applying to become a NPF can apply for a grant, that’s a good thing and the way things should be done.
But Network Wapping has been as secretive about their funding as about most of their activities. They have been asked before as to what funding they have applied for and to my recollection the only answer has been this paragraph (see below) dated 3 July 2013 on their website.
“An application for very modest funding that the government makes available to defray costs incurred by organisations sponsoring the designation of Neighbourhood Planning Forums has been submitted.”
How much is ‘very modest funding’ then? No point in asking Network Wapping ‘cos they won’t tell. Remember these are the same people who refused to publish the names of signatories to their own NPF application and we had to do it for them.
Locality – public service at its best
Instead of wasting even more of my time asking Network Wapping I emailed the people who manage the grants, Locality, and asked them.
I got a very nice and forthcoming reply back that I reproduce below.
“Dear Mark Baynes,
Thank you for your enquiry about the neighbourhood planning grants process and the application made by Network Wapping.
I attach copies of the guidance for applicants and the terms and conditions that we attach to all grants as this will answer most of your questions about the grants process.
Network Wapping were eligible to apply to the Supporting Communities in Neighbourhood Planning programme as a prospective neighbourhood forum. At the stage that they made their application, they had already submitted applications to designate the neighbourhood area and the neighbourhood forum to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. However, this is not a prerequisite of the programme as groups can apply for support in seeking such designation.
They have applied for and been awarded one grant totalling £5,086 for venue hire, communications including printing, website costs and mailing.
Groups are required to report quarterly on their use of the funds and, before they draw down the final 10% of the grant, a final grant report together with invoices for amounts over £1,000 has to be provided.
I hope this answers your queries.”
At last! Information! Thank you Locality! So the ‘very modest funding’ is £5,086. That seems fair. And there seems to be a good system for monitoring how the grant is used. All good.
Below are links to PDF documents giving more detail of the monitoring process.
So what are Network Wapping going to spend this grant on?
This would mainly be for the ‘public’ meetings at Polyanna once a month. Don’t know if the other ‘non public non secret’ meetings incur a cost, I suspect not.
Communications including printing, website costs and mailing
Communications? Network Wapping? That’s a giggle. Website costs? Maybe £100 a year? Not that there is anything of any interest on the website, especially meeting minutes. If Network Wapping need a competent web editor to help out I am happy to help out…
Well we know Network Wapping have sent at least one letter to Tower Hamlets withdrawing their previous NPF application so that’s one envelope and stamp accounted for.
This is probably the biggest cost that Network Wapping have incurred.
Who has the cash?
There is one minor detail that is troubling me. Who or what was paid the £5,086? Now Locality have informed me that the ‘accountable body’ for the grant is the Network Wapping Neighbourhood Planning Forum.
What’s in a name? Quite a lot
Only wrinkle here being that the Network Wapping Neighbourhood Planning Forum does not exist. The ‘Network Wapping community action group’ has made a submission (again) to establish a NPF. But there is no Network Wapping NPF at the moment so the grant must have been made and paid to Network Wapping community action group.
Doesn’t it? If it does then this is interesting because no one in Wapping or anywhere else for that matter has ever been told by Network Wapping of it’s constitution, formal structure, terms of membership or organisation. Indeed I and others have been told that there is no formal structure. At times it has been as if Network Wapping doesn’t really exist. I’m not kidding.
So if Network Wapping is not an organisation who has the money? It can’t be the ‘Network Wapping community action group’ as it is not formally organised or constituted. So the Locality grant of £5,086 has been made to who? Or what?
Nothing odd going on
I should make it plain that there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to think there is anything odd going on here, but I do think it is important for the residents of Wapping (and St Katharine Docks, and Limehouse for that matter) to know. After all it is your money.
The exceptionally helpful person at Locality did not have these details to hand when we corresponded (a Sunday) as this information is held by the awarding partners that Locality works with.
Squadron of flying pigs spotted in Wapping
But Locality are going to find out and see if we can be told. Let’s see what the answer is. Could be interesting. Of course Network Wapping could tell us first of course…
Update 20 October 2013
I met with Christine Trumprer during the week and she explained the way in which Locality approves and monitors any grants given to potential Neighbourhood Planning Forums.
The system Locality employs seems to be very diligent and any grant applicant has to specify exactly how any grant will be spent before it is given.
There is then a good procedure in place that ensures all monies are accounted including the requirement for a second signature on any cheques by a responsible person who has no connection with the group in question, in this case Network Wapping.
I am quite happy that these procedures are being followed and that there is no issue here at all. I would also like to thank Christine for being completely open about this.
Christine supplied Love Wapping with an Excel spreadsheet of the grant breakdown that I have reproduced below. And I emphasise that this budget has to be approved before it is spent – and has to be accounted for afterwards.
Breakdown of Community Development Foundation Funding to Network Wapping
|Community Development Foundation Funding June 2013-March 2014||Money Available|
|Approved funding on 26th June 2013||£5,086.04|
|Monthly Meetings 9 x £50||450|
|Consultation and Drop-In Office Cost 7 x £50||350|
|Event Pitch/Room Hire||92|
|Internet Connection 9 x £20||180|
|Telephone Costs 9 x £60||540|
|Social Media/Website 9 x £50||450|
|East End Life||429|
|East London Advertiser||460.8|
|Marketing – Laminated Sheets||120|
|Collation of Information Consultation £80/day 2 people for 2.5 days||400|
|10,000 Leaflet drop in Neighbourhood Area||762|
|Paid on 19th September 2013||4522.96|
|To be identified||£268.00|
If you have any further queries about this I suggest you ask Network Wapping via their website or firstname.lastname@example.org. Let the rest of us know if you ever get a reply.
- Network Wapping – now they want your cash
- Network Wapping – opaque, unrepresentative and hopeless with arithmetic
- Or click on the ‘Network Wapping’ main menu button at the top of this page.