06 December 2016
South Belfast MLA Emma Little-Pengelly has called upon the Alliance Party to clarify apparent double standards in relation to its criticisms of the Social Investment Fund. Mrs Little Pengelly has written to Alliance Party leader Naomi Long ahead of an Assembly debate on the Social Investment Fund.
The DUP MLA said, “The Alliance Party has been very vocal in its criticisms of the Social Investment Fund. Whilst others have welcomed the £80m investment to tackle deprivation, Alliance has preferred to unfairly concentrate on what it calls ‘flawed' processes rather than the huge amount to positive and valuable work funded under the Fund.
One of major sources of Alliance outrage was that lead partner project management roles could be allocated without procurement to organisations represented on the SIF steering groups.
During the numerous comments by Alliance representatives, no mention was made of the decision taken by the South Belfast steering group, which included Alliance’s Paula Bradshaw. It allocated the project management for the Employability South project to the Greater Village Regeneration Trust.
Paula Bradshaw was also at that time director of GVRT. Indeed, she may have had direct involvement in the GVRT project management role allocated by the SIF steering group she sat on.
I have no doubt that both GVRT and Paula did a good job on a scheme delivering positive outcomes for South Belfast. I attended the hugely positive launch and saw at first-hand how welcome this project was across the community.
However, it clearly raises questions about the sincerity of Alliance’s SIF attacks. I have written to the Alliance leader seeking urgent clarification on this clear contradiction.
If Alliance opposed the SIF steering group process, why did Paula Bradshaw actively participate in such a process which brought a direct benefit to her own organisation?
It has been extraordinary to watch Paula sit quietly beside her Alliance colleagues in the Assembly as one after another jump to their feet to criticise the fund and call for the funds to go elsewhere. A fund she was involved with at every stage including the governance and allocation of lead partners.
Chris Lyttle has said that SIF had been ‘beset by a lack of openness’ so I have no doubt that Alliance will wish to clarify the apparent double standards displayed by the party.”