SIR: It’s very welcome that Winchester Cathedral, the Theatre Royal and Watercress Line have all succeeded in obtaining substantial ‘emergency’ grants to help them through their current inability to earn income because of the pandemic.

It’s surprising, however, to learn from Steve Brine MP’s latest self-published ‘Winchester Post’ that he seems to be claiming the credit for these three awards (heading: ‘MP Delivers Again’ with three suitably posed location photos out of the 22 pictures featuring him in the four-page handout). I’m intrigued.

The application process to the Culture Recovery Fund was remitted by the government to ‘arm’s length’ intermediaries – Arts Council England (operating under Royal Charter since 1946 specifically to avoid political interference) and the National Heritage Lottery Fund. Under current extreme circumstances while these independent bodies are exposed to any recriminations for decisions that might be questionable or go wrong, the Culture Ministry has, most unusually, arrogated to itself the right to announce the ‘winners’.

Oliver Dowden, probably the most crassly interventionist Culture Secretary since the unlamented David Mellor almost 30 years ago, issued a boorish threat to beneficiaries about the consequences of failure to promulgate praise for the government widely enough. To crown that our MP now seems to assume he can claim personal responsibility for successful local applications to the fund. If he did intervene in the ‘independent’ process for local advantage, then we need to know that the long-standing rules have been bent, so that we can all make more use of this possibility in future.

The creative sector (predominantly consisting of overlooked freelancers), has been particularly badly affected by the Covid-19 crisis, and needs all the help it can get. Its 2019 value to this country was (according to ONS) more than £111bn, the second largest contributor to the UK economy. Meanwhile, the EU cultural funding for England that has averaged around £40m annually over the last 10 years has disappeared with no current plans to make up for this loss of funding after Brexit.

Christopher Gordon,

Cornes Close