Community Association being taken to the cleaners?

The city council intends to cut back drastically on subsidies to community organisations. What will this mean for our neighbourhood?

In 2012 Ingrid van Engelshoven (alderman for education and public services, D66) wants to allocate just one tenth of current subsidies for the accommodation and activities to community organisations, and stop reimbursement for general administrative support (except for that directly linked to activities) all together. If our Community Association wants more subsidies, an activities’ programme will have to be submitted to the director of the sub-municipal office for our city district. Other resident groups will also be encouraged to apply for subsidies the whole year round. This is intended to allow local residents themselves more of a voice instead of the organizations speaking for them.* The council means business because community organisations have already been informed that they no longer need to submit an annual strategy for 2012.

But … what does this mean for us in practice?

A well-organised and approachable community association will become virtually impossible if we can no longer rely on good-quality administrative support. Currently, Trudy Hollander is present two mornings a week in the association’s office space in the Klokhuis Community Centre. She deals with the post (an awful lot of it from the council!), maintains contact with advertisers in the community newspaper (and on the website), takes meeting minutes, archives material and is the knowledge centre of the A&W Community Association.

The presence of a professional who is always available at set times is essential for such an organisation, otherwise manned by volunteers who provide help and support when and if they have the time, to function properly.

The change from an annual, co-ordinated application for a subsidy to individual/incidental applications is not only more time consuming (for both community organisations and the council) but will also bring uncertainty. Must the A&W Community Association and individual neighbourhood residents now compete with one another for support, with the risk of hearing the subsidy fund is empty or the certainty that structured, co-ordinated activities will be extremely difficult.

With less than 10% of the present subsidy, the A&W Community Association will be cleaned out. Volunteer work in the neighbourhood needs to be channelled and given direction; the community organisations were actually created, with assistance from the council, to do just that. If the council’s intension is to stop certain community organisations from ignoring the wishes of their residents and monopolising subsidies, then speak to them about it and take measures to change their behaviour; don’t condemn all organisations.

The alderman says she wants to promote resident participation but in fact this plan is the best way to undermine such commitment.

The committee of councillors recently met to discuss the proposed plan; it must not go through. We will be doing everything we can, luckily still with the necessary administrative support, to make sure it doesn’t.

April 2011 – Tieke Dedel and Auke Bloembergen
board members of the Archipel & Willemspark Community Association

*In our neighbourhood there are regular A&W Community Council meetings held in the Klokhuis Community Centre when everyone is free to come along and have their say. Only recently two new A&W Community Association working groups were set up at the request of local individuals.

New working parties:
Sustainability
Care & Well-being