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Drugs charity sues council

PUBLISHED: 16:56 04 March 2010 | UPDATED: 17:39 25 August 2010

A DRUGS and alcohol charity is suing a council for more than £57,000 over unpaid invoices. Bosses at Foundation 66 - one of the UK s largest organisations tackling alcohol addiction, accuse Bexley council of failing to pay fees after terminating their

A DRUGS and alcohol charity is suing a council for more than £57,000 over unpaid invoices.

Bosses at Foundation 66 - one of the UK's largest organisations tackling alcohol addiction, accuse Bexley council of failing to pay fees after terminating their outreach service early.

But the council claim workers in the borough were horrified at the charity's "poor service" - referring just five drug users into treatment when the target was 80.

Director of Services at Foundation 66, Stephen Hall, claims that the council were more bothered about hitting their national drug treatment targets than dealing with the real nuisance problem in Bexley - alcohol.

He said: "Bexley does not have an open drug market.

"The police, street wardens and housing officers said that the real nuisance on the streets is alcohol and not crack and so we worked mainly with alcohol users. We provided a service that met Bexley's needs.

"Bexley council was more interested in hitting their national treatment targets rather than dealing with the problems that really affected Bexley.

"We are a charity and have a legal duty on behalf of our beneficiaries to collect the money.

"We could have asked for three months notice but we instead compromised on two weeks and still Bexley council will not play ball."

The writ issued at London's High Court, reveals that the charity is suing the council for payment of £54,102.50 as well as interest of £3,513.57 and continuing interest of £14.82 a day.

A spokesperson for Bexley council said: "Any organisation being funded by the council, and ultimately the taxpayer, must meet its agreed targets and performance standards so that residents get best value for money. The council has refused to pay Foundation 66 in full for its drugs outreach service because performance fell far short of agreed targets.

"Even though they did not deliver, Foundation 66 wants to sue the council for the entire costs of a service that failed residents and vulnerable people in Bexley."

Council bosses only offered to pay for the outcomes they say the charity delivered - 10 per cent of the contract price but the charity demanded payment for the whole contract.

The contract should have run from October 2007 until March last year, at a cost of £114,256 a year, but the council terminated it on December 31, 2008.

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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