Arboretum could miss out on funding due to name change

the world’s first community based arboretum in Sidmouth has been left looking to fill a funding hole after missing out on a �5,676 grant - because of the name on the application form.

Project leaders had hoped to use the cash to participate in a town science festival next month, recruit experts to lead guided walks, print leaflets, and create their website.

They even wanted to place special ‘QR’ codes on trees so that residents and visitors can scan them with their mobile phones to find out more information.

The project, which catalogues Sidmouth’s best loved trees and aims to involve the community in greening the urban landscape, was awarded Big Lottery funding which was subsequently withdrawn - because of the name on the application form.

The arboretum had applied for funding under the name of the Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce - which decided it cannot accept the conditional offer.

As a result, the arboretum was last week set up as an independent association complete with its own constitution and bank account. However, it will have to reapply for the Big Lottery money and has also asked the Sid Vale Association for Keith Owen Fund assistance.

The Chamber helped the arboretum flourish, but bosses felt they had no choice but to turn down the grant as it could not be held accountable for such a large amount.

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“This leaves us with a hole in our carefully laid plans for the autumn,” said arboretum organiser Diana East. “We now need to find a way to fund our participation in the science festival, get an all singing-all dancing website, reprints of very successful tree trail leaflets, tree labelling - including the Knowle trees - and plans for a tree day next June with national figures attending.”

Steven Kendall-Torry, chairman of Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce, said of the decision not to accept the funding: “It was plain and simply because we would have had to have been held accountable for the money.

“We helped start it (the arboretum) but it has taken on a life of its own. It has been so successful that it has outgrown us. We’re all 100 per cent enthusiastic about it, but it’s purely an accounting thing.”

Mr Kendall-Torry said the only thing that would need to be changed on the application was the name of the applicant. The Big Lottery Fund said the cash offer was non-transferrable.