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Volunteer aid group to shut; CHURCH HILL ROAD: Independent service shuns tender bid.

Byline: By Leda Reynolds

A NUMBER of Solihull charities could face an uncertain future after a group which helped set them up announced it was closing.

The Solihull Council for Voluntary Service is set to shut in September because of a dispute with Solihull Council, one of its financial backers.

The row centres around Solihull Council's decision to put out a tender for its voluntary service needs.

The voluntary service group said it would not take part in the tender process because it feared losing its independence if it won the council contract. A spokesman said the winning bidder would effectively become a "sub-division" of the authority.

"Such loss of independence is totally unacceptable to us as a body promoting and championing the voluntary sector in Solihull," he said.

The voluntary service organisation helped form other groups including Solihull Carers Centre.

The impact of its closure was not clear.

But Solihull Council's voluntary and community relations unit head Faisal Hussain said he was "very surprised" at the development.

"The move to go out to tender goes back to 2002/03 and follows consultation with the voluntary organisation sector," he said.

"One of the key recommendations was the authority was agreeing contracts for historical reasons and was favouring some organisations.

"We agreed to provide the voluntary service group with a one-year contract for 2004/5 and said in subsequent reviews we should go out to tender. The group was informed of the review last October."
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jul 13, 2007
Words:244
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