A FLOOD rescue service chief has hit out at what he says is the lunacy of Lottery cash distributors - claiming the organisation has been denied funding because it is "too white".

Dave Walker, chairman of the Upton-upon-Severn station of Severn Area Rescue Association (SARA), said it had been refused £5,000 Awards for All grants from the Big Lottery Fund five times in the past couple of years - and accused it of reverse racism.

The charitable body - which relies entirely on grants and donations and has 160 volunteers - has bases in Upton-upon-Severn, Beachley, near Chepstow, Monmouthshire, and Sharpness in Gloucestershire.

Mr Walker said the organisation - whose annual running costs are £10,000 to £15,000 per station - was told its applications did not meet regional priorities.

But he said when he examined the fund's website, he saw grants were mainly going to ethnic-related organisations.

"We've been rejected to the point that we've packed up applying for Lottery grants because it's a waste of effort.

"We feel fairly upset - it's almost reverse racism and is causing a backlash with the way people are starting to feel in Britain.

"We're having to make do with old equipment which could affect someone's life because we are essentially a 999 service.

"We're totally and utterly fed up with it - when we see some of the other things that are being supported, and the fact we're a life-saving services, it just gets us very frustrated."

Schemes it has applied for cash include a rescue boat - which it eventually funded itself through collections - and training to rescue flood victims.

Mr Walker said they were due to open another base near Kidderminster and any funding was vital.

Awards for All director Mike Wilkins said the group had already received two grants totalling more than £8,600. He said the popularity of the scheme meant applying was even more competitive - with groups with an income of less than £20,000 given priority.

"In the case of SARA, they already have received two grants and their income well exceeds £20,000. Awards for All Lottery grants are one-off awards and are not designed to be a regular source of income," he said.