Third Sector at Large - Minister-approved schemes start to get a sinking feeling

Number of charitable organisations have funding cut after visits from government bigwigs

Communities secretary Eric Pickles was keen to berate excessive elf 'n' safety rules during the Conservative Party conference last week. But perhaps he should start removing the menace by looking closer to home. Delegates who turned up for a big society-themed fringe meeting in the conference centre were told by an ill-tempered jobsworth that they could not go in because the room was full and they would be causing a hazard. A glimpse through the window showed the room was indeed busy but was hardly crowded.

* Beware visits from government bigwigs. In May, civil society minister Nick Hurd visited the Paddington Development Trust in London; days later it had its funding cut by Westminster City Council. Then Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg dropped by a children's centre in Shepherd's Bush, London, which was earmarked for cuts. Now Hastings Pier & White Rock Trust's project to restore the town's pier has been hit by the curse. The trust was praised by Hurd during a visit in July, only for the pier to burn down last week.

* The British Museum should also be on guard. At the Conservative Party conference last week, culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said an estimate of the museum's assets had showed they were worth half the value of the national deficit. "Just don't tell George Osborne," he joked.

* The 100th anniversary of the Titanic's ill-fated maiden voyage is in 2012, so naturally The Mission to Seafarers charity is involved in events to mark the occasion. "The first cruise ever to recreate the voyage of the Titanic will sail on 8 April 2012, coinciding with the centenary of the sinking of the iconic vessel," announced the press release. At Large assumes the voyage is not anticipated to end in the same way as the first one.

* Caron Bradshaw, chief executive of the Charity Finance Directors' Group, knows how to grab an audience. She introduced last week's CFDG annual dinner with: "The last time I stood up on a stage in front of this many people was during the 1980s, and I was dressed as a cocktail waitress. Perhaps that's a story for another day."

- Mathew Little is away. Contact Third Sector at

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