PLANS to use council cash to help save a youth charity have been rejected due to red tape.

Canvey Youth Project, in Long Road, is on the verge of closure after 20 years helping troubled youngsters in Castle Point.

The charity, which receives no Government funding and helps up to 700 people a year, could fold in a few months after exhausting means of raising cash.

Councillor Grace Watson suggested at a Canvey East Neighbourhood meeting part of the neighbourhood group’s remaining £2,645, which must be spent before the end of the financial year, be donated to the charity.

But the motion was rejected after council officers said the cash must only be used for environmental projects not requiring ongoing maintenance.

Mrs Watson said: “I am very disappointed. The Project does so much good work. I have no idea what ongoing maintenance the council thinks making a donation would involve. I do not know what we would do without the charity if it closed.”

The borough’s five neighbourhood meeting groups were banned from spending their annual budgets on planting trees because continual maintenance costs – such as pruning – were too high.

Councillors condemned the decision, claiming they were at a loss as to what exactly they can spend money on. Councillor Janice Payne said: “We can’t use the money for trees or to help this charity. What can we spend it on? We’re running out of areas to put benches.”

Castle Point Council gives £2,000 a year each to five neighbourhood groups.

A council spokesman told the meeting: “This money has to be used only on environmental projects, and schemes to increase civic pride.

“They must not have ongoing costs. If this group gave money to the charity, which it would come to rely on, it would mean the group having to keep giving taxpayers’ money to help it stay open.”