‘Discrimination’ claim as private school’s funding bid rejected

Our Lady of Sion school
Our Lady of Sion school

A county councillor claimed the rejection of a private school’s community grant bid amounted to ‘discrimination’ against independent education.

Worthing Pier’s Michael Cloake supported Our Lady of Sion’s request for £1,278 from West Sussex County Council’s Community Initiative Fund to buy a defibrillator.

W19613H13 WH WORTHING ELECTION 2013 PIC S.G. 03.04.2013

The Count at Worthing Assembly Hall on Friday Michael Cloake Worthing Pier ENGSUS00120130305163513

W19613H13 WH WORTHING ELECTION 2013 PIC S.G. 03.04.2013 The Count at Worthing Assembly Hall on Friday Michael Cloake Worthing Pier ENGSUS00120130305163513

But the committee felt the school had ‘ample’ funds to buy its own equipment, while the defibrillator would not be publicly available.

Mr Cloake, a former Sion student, said the committee had previously purchased defibrillators for other groups, adding the rejection was ‘discrimination against private schools’.

“I can’t find any category that it fits in,” said Northbrook councillor Robin Rogers, who highlighted how the funds generally went to charities and community groups.

Sion bursar Graeme Miles said he accepted the decision and thanked councillors for considering the application.

He added: “I felt that the potential implications of not having this vital life-saving equipment were such that we could not wait for the outcome of the application and to this end we purchased a machine for each of our schools shortly after the application was submitted.

“I would never want to be in a position where funding took precedent over safety – this is why we simply could not wait for the hearing.”

Other grants were awarded to Mencap, Worthing 50+ Rifle and Pistol Club, Reaching Families, Kids Run Free, Worthing Gymnastics Club and Durrington Community Cycle Project.

According to the county council’s website, the Community Initiative Fund ‘provides small grants to assist local community projects in reaching new people, developing services and supporting the local economy, encouraging community growth and self-reliance’.

It states preference is given to groups that have ‘secured additional funding sources and are able to demonstrate strong community support and leadership in their project.”

Defibrillators near to Sion include ones at Portland House and Heene Community Centre.