VOLUNTEERS at a Bognor Regis young people’s project claim they are owed more than £40,000 by Arun District Council.
The management committee members of the Number 18 Project say the funding is the backdated annual support of £7,000 the council has failed to pay.
The project is fighting for its life after West Sussex County Council decided to withdraw its backing from next April to concentrate its resources on the Number 39 Club off Glamis Street.
This means the Number 18 information shop, counselling, drop-in cafe and sexual health facilities based in Waterloo Square and Little High Street will have to survive on the income which the management committee can generate.
Trustee Jan Cosgrove has challenged Arun’s councillors to take the dispute, dating back to 2006, to independent arbitration.
He said: “This denial of funding over these past years has cost us sessions when we could have been open more, such as in the evenings.
“We have a duty as trustees to fight for this money, especially now as our future changes so completely.”
An Arun spokesman said the council had always met its obligations to Number 18.
“Arun is the freehold owner of 18 Waterloo Square and 75 Little High Street. The council has leased it to the Number 18 Project for a period of 25 years at a heavily-discounted rent.
“The council continues to carry out external decorations and structural repairs to the building at its cost and continues to award discretionary rate relief to the project,” he said.
Mr Cosgrove said Number 18 was a partnership between the district and county councils which dates back to the 1990s.
West Sussex was to supply seconded staffing, plus a block grant, under the partnership agreement. Arun agreed to provide the premises at a nominal annual rent of £1,000 plus £7,000 a year funding.
The management committee says the sum was part of the agreement.
Mr Cosgrove said relevant documents appeared to have been destroyed by the councils, but proof had been provided by three former county youth officers and himself that the deal had been agreed.
“So, we have a situation of no written record from the time, but evidence that would show there was such a funding element,” he said.
The Arun spokesman said the council had a full record of its legal documents in its 39-year history, but it contained no mention of the claimed agreement.
The council had asked the project to provide proof of the deal since 2006 but it had failed to do so, he added.