Most county councillors snub offer of ‘little bit of money’ put aside to help them support local community projects

PUBLISHED: 14:56 10 February 2017 | UPDATED: 14:56 10 February 2017

“We’ve put a little bit of money aside to give (councillors) some money in their pocket to do small local things,” service director Sarah Ferguson told the community safety partnership. PHOTO: YouTube

“We’ve put a little bit of money aside to give (councillors) some money in their pocket to do small local things,” service director Sarah Ferguson told the community safety partnership. PHOTO: YouTube

Archant

Only four county councillors bothered to apply for a share of £20,000 set aside specifically to help local communities.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) response revealed no councillor from East Cambridgeshire or from Fenland took up the option to bid for the community grants.

Of the four who applied, three were successful with £10,500 of the cash remaining unspent.

Cambridge blogger Richard Taylor who submitted the FOI said: “It looks as if this idea to empower councillors giving them a more active role in delivering support and services has flopped.

“Three of the county’s councillors grasped the opportunity but the rest didn’t.”

The council singled out 18 unspecified communities that were eligible for funding – councillors were encouraged to get community groups to apply for the cash.

The grant was specifically to be used to “significantly build on and further develop what is already in place”.

“We’ve put a little bit of money aside to give (councillors) some money in their pocket to do small local things,” service director Sarah Ferguson told the community safety partnership.

It was billed as an opportunity “to build community resilience and enable community networks to have a more active role in delivering support and services which meet their local needs”.

The FOI reveals that the small grants scheme was presented to councillors and an independent panel then considered the applications.

The three councillors who DID help secure funding were:

•Councillor Susan Van de Ven ( £4,000 for Melbourn Community Edible Gardening project)

•Councillor Peter Downes (£1,500 Brampton Good Neighbour Watch Scheme)

•Councillor Peter Reeve (Ramsey Community Skills Club).

Mr Taylor said: “There appears to be very little about this grants scheme available in public.

“Perhaps the idea was for councillors promote it themselves. I’ve not noticed any councillors doing so.”

He added: “This was an interesting an innovative idea for empowering local councillors but it appears few of our current councillors in Cambridgeshire were up for the challenge.

“The scheme appears to have been abandoned after the trial in early 2016.”

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