EFFORTS to get £20,000 axed from the Borough Council’s grant fund reinstated were defeated at the authority’s executive committee meeting recently.
The borough’s controlling Conservative group recently approved plans to disband the council’s grants panel and instead give each individual councillor £5,000 to donate to worthy causes in their own ward or across the borough as they see fit.
This would in turn be monitored by officers to ensure fair play.
Of this money councillors would be free to combine amounts up to a total of £20,000 to donate to a particularly worthy cause while £350 would be deducted from each £5,000 sum to be used on cultural awareness and the promotion of cultural cohesion.
However last week the council’s Overview and Scrutiny committee raised concerns that the total grants pot had been reduced from £165,000 per annum to £145,000 for 2019/20 and recommended that it be put back into the pot.
At executive Coun Bill Hartnett (Lab, Church Hill) put forward an amendment calling for the £20,000 to be reinstated and described the changes to the grants system as a retrograde step that would be bureaucratic and costly in officers’ time spent checking grant awards.
Put to the vote, his amendment was defeated, Coun Tom Baker-Price (Con, Headless Cross and Oakenshaw saying: “It’s important to say we have and will still have one of the largest grants budget of any of the district councils in the area and we are still facing a half million budget gap.”
The new grants process will run for a one year pilot period.