Last night the influential cross-party Monitoring and Audit Committee at Kettering Borough Council voted unanimously to recommend to the council’s executive to suspend any further payments to a scheme launched by the Adam Simmonds Northamptonshire’s PCC in October last year and to try to claim back the money already paid to them.
The service called VOICE took over from Victim Support in trying to support the victims of crime in Northamptonshire and was hailed as a new way of doing things that was supposed to lead the way forward for the whole country. However, during our meeting we were told that since its inception there has been nothing but difficulties with staff leaving and the service being plunged into turmoil.
As part of the arrangement with the Borough Council to receive annual funding of £8,500, VOICE were supposed to provide information and statistics to show what the money was being spent on so we could see we were getting value for money, but reporting has been sporadic and this year no returns have been received at all leaving us with little choice but to call for funding to be stopped and for us to ask for our money back.
Clearly the whole project was rushed through too quickly and while the intentions may have been good, the whole thing seems to have been poorly managed with the schemes director admitting to our officers that "there is a problem" and that he "couldn’t guarantee the council’s money was being spent in Kettering" which was the whole point of the original agreement.