Navca distances itself from criticism of big society

Chief executive of umbrella body takes issue with views expressed at Community Sector Coalition meeting

Kevin Curley, chief executive of Navca
Kevin Curley, chief executive of Navca

Kevin Curley, chief executive of the umbrella body Navca, has written to the Community Sector Coalition protesting that it has "used a public platform to inaccurately reflect the views of its members."

At a meeting last week, attended by some CSC members and people from the wider community sector, the views expressed included strong criticism of the government's big society agenda.

Some called the agenda a "sham" and others said it was offensive to community groups because it suggested they had failed. The meeting decided to form sub-groups to discuss taking forward various initiatives, including a possible campaign against big society policies.

Navca was not represented at the meeting. Curley's letter to the CSC’s chair, Nick Beddow, was written after he read the Third Sector report, which mentioned that Navca is a CSC member.

The letter said: "I believe that CSC has used a public platform to inaccurately reflect the views of its members. As a consequence Navca has been erroneously associated with views that we just do not have. This is particularly embarrassing for Navca as I have had members contact me asking why we are taking this new line.

"Navca and its members are pragmatists...We have approached the big society with an open mind. We will oppose elements that we believe are bad for local voluntary organisations and community groups but we will support things that can help them."

The letter says Curley has always appreciated how CSC allows members to discuss issues. "However, in this instance you have gone beyond your remit. Rather than reflect members' wishes, CSC appears to be attempting to lead members' policy."

Curley told Third Sector: "I think there is a risk that the Community Sector Coalition will get itself associated with an anti-big society position and that’s a risk I want to hold it back from."

Matthew Scott, director of the CSC, told Third Sector:"This was not a formal statement of CSC's postion. Our purpose is to allow a range of voices to be heard."

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