Lottery pressured on ‘unpopular’ causes

Following the controversial grant of £80,000 to the Scottish Prostitutes Education Project (ScotPEP), the National Lottery Charities Board in Scotland now preparing for its third round of awards - finds itself under pressure from two opposing sides. Political pressure has been applied to force the board to be more publicly accountable, while voluntary organisations argue that unpopular charities must not be made to suffer in the public relations battle.

The Charities Board, which has already given over £150 million to different causes throughout the UK, was subject to political sniping from the outset. After the first round of grants, former National Heritage secretary David Mellor, the Government architect of the lottery, strongly criticised a grant of over £600,000 to the Strathclyde Poverty Alliance. Elsewhere in the country ‘unpopular’ grants to the Gay London Policing group and Leicester Les. Bi, Gay society, have provoked press and public protests. Likewise the widely reported grant to ScotPEP provoked criticism from John Major who called the decision ‘ill-founded and ill- judged‘.

However, voluntary organisations in Scotland have stressed the need for the lottery to give grants to unpopular charities which would find difficulty getting funding elsewhere. Steven Maxwell, assistant director of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), warned the charities board that it would not have a ‘healthy relationship with voluntary organisations if it was subject to greater accountability to politicians’.

John Innes, a spokesman for the charities board in Scotland. stressed the need for a good relationship with the voluntary sector. In previous rounds the board has set up committees of voluntary workers and youth workers to give an accurate account of needs and provide a more objective view of the applications a practice which looks set to continue in the future.

In the past two weeks the charities board in Scotland has been vigorously defending its grants to the so-called unpopular charities like ScotPEP. SCVO stressed the importance of what it called a ‘victory’ in the arguments over ScotPEP. ‘We need to be able to go into the next round of grants objectively.’ says Innes, ‘where decisions are rooted only in the

rigorous assessment of all applicants individually. We have to make decisions without fear or favour.‘

Success for the charities board in withstanding pressure over the ScotPEP issue is important because the next round of funding concerns healthcare and disability and. as lnnes points out. is likely to involve ‘unpopular‘ applications from HIV and AIDS organisations.

Roy Kilpatrick. co-ordinator ofthe Scottish Voluntary HIV and AIDS Forum. was encouraged by the stand the charities board is taking. ‘Only this week, I wrote to encourage HIV awareness groups to apply in the next round of funding.‘ he said.

The closing date for the next round of applications is 9 August. In the previous two rounds the board has seen the number of applications rise to over I200 and that number is likely to rise again. Innes sees the rise in applications as evidence of the confidence people have in the board. However, this confidence depends on the objectivity ofthe board. As Roy Kilpatrick states: ‘Prejudice and political interference must not be allowed to influence the decision of the charities board.‘ (James Blake)

Robinson to leave Salvo after a decade

Salvo, the lobby group which campaigns for greater recognition of the subsidised arts in Scotland, is seeking a new administrative director after Eric llobinson resigns at the end of June. Robinson, who has been director for ten years and has become almost synonymous with Salvo, is stepping down to concentrate on arts consultancy work.

The organisation is entirely funded through subscription fees from Scottish arts organisations, and Salvo lobbies the Scottish Arts Council and the Scottish Office on the members' behalf. llobinson believes the possibility of a Scottish parliament after the next election could mean a huge boost for the arts.

‘We are witnessing a renaissance in Scotland’s confidence in itself as a nation and the arts have been among the first to recognise that,’ he added.

Salvo’s board hopes to have a new director in place by early autumn, according to chairman John Gray. lle hopes the organisation will gain a higher political profile. (Eddie Gibb)

lanarkshire agency battles to fill gap left by Ravenscraig

As the gas holders and cooling towers at Ravenscralg steel plant are finally demolished by controlled explosion, Government agencies are putting a brave face on prospects for the llorth Lanarkshire economy. They claim that a strategy to offset industrial dereliction is already on track.

The demolition at the end of June will bring down the gigantic cylinder which has dominated the Motherweli skyline since the plant was built there in the early 60s. it was a landmark of heavy Industry that employed 27,000 people at its pedt during the 70s; by June 1992 when the British Steel plant shut down, only 1200 workers remained.

‘The problem with an industry like steel is that everyone in that

llavenscralg: ‘towerlng colossus’

community becomes over-dependent on it,’ says Dr llichard Finlay of Strathclyde University’s history department. ‘All of the local economy is dependent in one way or another on this towering colossus so when that goes, everything else just falls around

it.’ A European programme to assist former steel-dependent communities has set aside £4.5m for Lanarkshire. The lanarkshire Development Agency has tried to lure investment to the existing business park at Bellshill and various enterprise zones in the area. The announcement by Taiwanese electronics firm Ghung llwa of a new £260 million factory producing tubes for TV monitors is the most substantial deal netted so far. ‘lanarltshire is not the industrial desert people forecast when the steel industry began to wind down,’ says l0A spokesman lleil Gibson. ‘0nly eight of the 50 local companies reliant on steel have closed down.’ Gibson pointed to the official unemployment figures, which have

dropped significantly since their peak at around 15 per cent after llavenscraig closed, as proof the strategy was working.

However, economic historian John Foster of Paisley llniversity thinks the fragmented nature of new investment is a sign of the Scottish economy’s continuing fragility, and claims that as the workforce is now made up of a higher proportion of women, unemployed husbands have been removed from the lob-seeking figures.

The site has been eannarked for the l.0A’s ‘urban village’ project, including homes, leisure and business facilities. The lynchpin of the 25-year strategy, subject to a feasibility study, is a new community-based university campus run by St Andrews. (Deirdre Molloy)

Bill Forsyth returns to rekindle old flame in new wn }

Memories of his botched attempt to seduce Dee Hepburn will come flooding back when the grown-up Gregory returns home to become a teacher at his old school. Scottish filmmaker Bill Forsyth has finally confirmed persistent rumours that he is directing a follow-up to his classic study of adolescent angst, Gregory’s Girl, which has remained Cumbemauld’s biggest claim to fame since its release in I981.

John Gordon Sinclair is confirmed for the lead role, but Hepburn - who played the bella Dorothy from 5A and Clare Grogan, Gregory’s eventual girl, will be notable by their absence. Cumbemauld is assured of another brush with stardom, however. But, warns producer Clive Parsons, it’s not

a sequel to Gregory is Girl. ‘lt just takes Sinclair‘s character and goes back seventeen years later to see where he‘s at,’ he says.

The choice of Cumbemauld as the location is good news for the town. and not just economically. ‘Having Gregory‘s Girl set in Cumbemauld the first time gave a very positive image of the town.’ said a spokeswoman for North Lanarkshire Council. ‘And we’re looking to reinforce that with the remake.’

While new-town Cumbemauld may lack the more obvious filmic attributes of Scotland’s Bravehearr country, it does have its own attractions. ‘Filmmakers are not always looking for pretty Highland villages,’ said the council spokeswoman. ‘Bill Forsyth’s

script [for the first Gregory ‘s Girl] called for an everyday Scottish town, and you don‘t get much more “normal” than Cumbemauld.‘

Celia Stephenson, director of Scottish Screen Locations, agrees: ‘You need a location that suits the film. Gregory '3 Girl was never likely to be shot in the mountains and glens. You need places like Cumbernauld.‘

The council intends to accommodate the crew by establishing an American- style film liaison unit in the town but the actual screen portrayal of Cumbemauld will be left to Forsyth. ‘We’re not going to have lots of orange whisky filters and make it look more beautiful.’ said the council spokeswoman. ‘Cumbemauld is Cumbemauld.’ (Ellie Carr)

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Gregory‘s Girl: mixed emotions In home economics

4 The List 28 Jun-ll Jul-l996