Monday, 3 October 2011

Community Grants

Each CWaC Councillor has a grant pot of £10,000 that can be spent on local community projects with the minimum of fuss and bureaucracy.  You might think that assessing the grant applications is one of the easiest things a councillor can do - good news all round perhaps?

To be fair my experience in grant giving has been very positive so far in the previous two years that CWaC had such a scheme.

Now, as finances are getting tighter, it is becoming harder.

How do you favour one project over another?  What criteria should you apply?

Without seeking to be 'too hard and fast' over the rules I'm always looking to ensure that Frodsham and its community benefits and, ideally as many people as possible benefit, or could benefit.  Instinctively I don't want to support overtly commercial, profit making schemes or to pass money on to another grant giving body, local authority or charity.

So I'm wrestling with two applications that are troubling me.

One is to provide money to RAW - residents against the windfarm to allow them to produce a professional photo montage of the windfarm proposal.  I was instrumental in obtaining a £1,000 grant from Frodsham Town Council earlier this year for this project.  Unfortunately the work has to be done again as Peel has reduced their scheme to 19 turbines from the original 20.  Effectively this means 'junking' the work already done.

I've asked many of the expected questions - why the company producing the montage can't simply remove the now deleted turbine... and the like.  So is this a good use of a further £1,000 of public money?  Should the inspector be asked to factor in the modest change ... and save the public purse £1,000?

Incidentally I've not come to a conclusion on this one...

And then there is a school that wants money to support overseas twinning.  I fully recognise just how laudable an idea this is, how some pupils would benefit greatly and others somewhat.  However should limited community grant monies be spent in this way? 

I think I have come to a conclusion about this one ... but I'm not in a position to announce that yet.

What this does point to is that the community itself is often the best judge as to whether something should be funded or not and that 'giving money away' is not as easy as it may at first sight appear.