Drugs fund plan put back for six months

A CONTROVERSIAL decision to give drug and alcohol charities in Fife more time to bid again for crucial funding has been given the go ahead.

But the move has been criticised by one senior health official

George Brechin, chief executive of NHS Fife, said the recommendation created an ‘invidious’ position.

His comments followed Thursday’s meeting of the NHS Fife and Fife Council’s health and social care partnership in Glenrothes.

Surprise move

It had been widely been expected that a controversial recommendation from Fife Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP) to give funding to Barnardo’s and Addaction Scotland - instead of local charities - would be rubber-stamped.

But in a surprise move, Peter Grant, leader of the Council administration, tabled a motion for it to be delayed for six months so the process could be re-run.

That would allow local groups to work together on alternative funding proposals.

Mr Grant’s move had cross-party support.

Vital knowledge

Councillor Alex Rowley, Labour leader, said: “These local groups have done a tremendous job over the years and we don’t want to lose the experience and knowledge that has been built up locally.

“If we can take a chance and have a look again, I think it is worth doing.”

But the politicians’ stance was not shared by Mr Brechin who believed strongly that the recommendations should have been followed through.

He hit out: “I find this an invidious position which worries me greatly as to the future,” he said. “We should not have got into this position. I’m not prepared to vote, either to reject the ADP’s views or the views of my Council partners.”

Mr Grant said the ADP proposal was the best option currently available, but he believed a better proposal could be brought forward if local services worked together.

Despite the strong views expressed by Mr Brechin, members agreed to continue the matter for six months. Within the new timescale, funding allocations will be prepared and a progress report is expected on November 24.

The final bids will come before committee on February 23 next year and a final decision made. Organisations should then be ready to bring in the changes on April 1.