Third Sector at Large: To Hastings with Alice, via Harrow West and Cyprus

Nick Hurd's visit to Hastings, the Work Programme and Sir Stephen Bubb's holiday are on our minds this week

Hastings pier
Hastings pier

- Amber Rudd, MP for Hastings and Rye and a former investment banker, was sucking up to Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude in the Commons last week, praising his "wise decision" to give money from the Social Action Fund to the Hastings Trust. Maude was happy to suck back, if one can put it like that: "The allure of a visit to my honourable friend's constituency is hard to resist," he gushed, promising that he or charities minister Nick Hurd would be knocking on her door soon. Hurd could be forgiven for wincing, since the role of charm ambassador usually falls to him. His earlier visits to the capital of the Costa Geriatrica include being served tea on a roundabout with the BBC's Newsnight prankster Steve Smith: he's probably had enough of the place, not least because the pier burnt down shortly after he championed efforts to restore it in 2010.

- While we're in parliament, the Public Accounts Committee heard Geraldine Blake, chief executive of Community Links, make a plea for more transparency about the Work Programme. OK, said the approving MPs, how's your Work Programme subcontract going? Er, I'm not allowed to tell you, said Blake. Very Alice in Wonderland.

- At Large mentioned last week that Nick Hurd's constituency of Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner sits conveniently in the area that received the largest amount of all from the Transforming Local Infrastructure fund. Even-handed as ever, we point out this week that the area - a conglomerate of three London boroughs - also covers the next-door seat of Harrow West, where the incumbent is Hurd's Labour oppo, Gareth Thomas. Two birds with one stone, in a way.

- Last word on Hurd is that a Voice4Change England press release, in a week with reshuffle in the air, replaced him as Minister for Civil Society with one Nick Clegg (who he?). A correction soon followed ...

- Sir Stephen Bubb's recent holiday in Cyprus put a spring in the step of Jeremy Muller, a director of Richard Desmond's Health Lottery, remorselessly pilloried by the Acevo leader ever since it started. "It's all gone terribly quiet," Muller told a Third Sector reporter over lunch. But Bubbles is back now and the fur will be flying again soon.

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