REPRESENTATIVES of the Woodcraft Folk charity are due to meet Children's Minister Margaret Hodge on Monday (April 4th) in a bid to persuade the Government to reverse its decision over a controversial funding axe.
The Department for Skills and Education rejected the Folk's application for funding, which provides £ 52,000 annually to help finance the administration of the children's charity because it said the organisation ? which operates largely as a result of the efforts of 3,000 volunteer workers ? does not represent good value for money.
The £ 52,000 a year grant amounts to 20 per cent of the Folk's income and, without it, there are fears that there will have to be redundancies among the five permanent staff members.
The funding cut-back has sparked a Parliamentary revolt with 113 MPs signing a Commons motion deploring the move and has already led to local Woodcraft Groups around the country having their annual grant suspended.
Islington North Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, who tabled the Early Day Motion, has also been successful in arranging an adjournment debate in the Commons for this Tuesday (April 5th).
Meanwhile it has been announced that Woodcraft Folk General Secretary Andy Piercy is in hospital after suffering a suspected stroke during the campaign to reinstate the group's funding.
A statement from the organisation said Mr Piercy is seriously ill. However he is mentally capable and undergoing physiotherapy. It added there is no indication of how long the recovery process will take.
Deputy General Secretary Chris Pyke told the News: "Andy is still poorly, but responding well to physiotherapy."
Mr Pyke said it was hoped a solution to the funding problem could be agreed at the meeting with Ms Hodge, but added that the adjournment debate was likely to take place irrespective of the outcome of the talks.
Following the recent successful lobby of Parliament attended by over 200 Woodcraft Folk members and supporters, another 13 MPs have signed Jeremy Corbyn's EDM.
Among the recent signatories are Labour/Co-op MP Ian Davidson and former ministers Frank Field, Martin O'Neill and Geoffrey Robinson.