Slow starts to scheme sees community fund roll-over

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A fund of more than £100,000 is available to aid community projects across the Forest Heath district.

A fund of more than £100,000 is available to aid community projects across the Forest Heath district.

Forest Heath District Councillors handed out less than half of their locality budgets in the scheme’s first year.

The remaining funds have been added to this year’s allowances meaning that £102,530 is up for grabs.

Cllr, Tony Simmons said: “Members did not have enough time to contact groups, what’s been agreed is they can carry forward any shortfall.”

Deputy leader of Forest Heath District Council, Nigel Roman, did not hand out any of his £2,500 locality budget during the first year.

He said the scheme got off to a slow start last April and he did not receive applications that fulfilled the criteria for a grant.

This has left Cllr Roman with a £5,000 budget this year, which he has started to hand out.

In total 43 projects were helped in the first year with contributions made towards sporting activities, village newsletters and conservation tools.

Cllr Rona Burt was the only member to hand out the entirety of her £2,500 budget in the first year.

Among the groups she supported were Gazeley Sports Club, and a village newsletter.

Cllr Burt said: “I think it’s been very successful.

“I’m very happy I think it’s something good for us as district councillors. It’s good we can help people. It’s public money as long as it’s spent wisely it’s a brilliant thing.”

Mildenhall Sea Cadets received £1,000 from Cllr Malcom Smith’s locality budget, which was spent on dry cagoules.

The purchase has ensured cadets can head out on the river in all weathers.

Angela Shipp, chairman of Mildenhall Sea Cadets, said £1,000 was an ‘awful lot of money’ for a group such as theirs and had made a big difference.

More information about how to apply for a locality budget grant can be found at http://www.forest-heath.gov.uk/info/200047/grants/568/member_locality_budgets