Thu, 23 Nov 2017
GRANTS are being made available to town and parish councils and community groups to enable them to provide services that West Berkshire Council can no longer afford to.
Last year the district council was forced to find £18.5m of savings after seeing its government grant slashed by 44 per cent.
This resulted in funding for a number of public services – including buses, libraries and children’s centres – being cut, scrapped entirely or passed on to town and parish councils.
However, West Berkshire Council and Greenham Trust have both been allocated £200,000 to establish a new £400,000 Community Solutions Fund, which is now available to help.
The primary objective of the fund is to provide start-up funding to help community-based projects become established following the cuts.
Grants of up to £12,000 are being made available, although in exceptional cases this amount might be exceeded.
There is also a small bids category for grants ranging from £500 to £1,000.
The fund will support creativity and innovation in West Berkshire communities and applications should typically fall within one of the following categories:
Service delegation – taking on services from West Berkshire Council and delivering these with volunteers, which could include grass cutting or road sign cleaning.
Community asset transfer – transferral of buildings, parks and other council-owned assets such as libraries or playgrounds.
Responding to community need by helping develop local services – this could include providing a volunteer driving scheme for the elderly or initiatives that strengthen a community’s response to severe or adverse weather events.
The organisations that can apply to the fund include parish or town councils, voluntary or community groups.
Councillor Marcus Franks, West Berkshire Council’s executive member for community resilience, said: “From speaking to local people we know that often they want to do more for their community but lack the funds to get going.
“We want to help cover these start-up costs and I hope that local groups will apply to the fund so that we get this money out into our communities.
“The fund is part of a new, broader approach by the council to work with local communities wanting to do more for themselves.
“Our new approach will allow those councils to provide an enhanced service for local people and complement the work we already do.
“We know people take pride in where they live and these new services will help those who want more done in their town or village than the district council can afford to do.”
Greenham Trust chief executive Chris Boulton said: “This new and innovative source of funding should really help local communities who wish to continue to provide important services that unfortunately can no longer be supported by the council in the current economic climate.”
To apply for an award from the fund, applicants should use the West Berkshire Council parish portal website: http://parish.westberks.gov.uk