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New leaders boost community cash pot

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: March 03, 2014

Cllr Dennis Fletcher outside house which would have needed to be knocked down for planning application,..Scalpcliffe Road.

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A FUND which provides grants for community groups has been increased by 50 per cent in the hope it will be able to help more people.

East Staffordshire Borough Council voted to raise its Neighbourhood Development Fund from £100,000 to £150,000 to cater for more projects in the community.

The move was approved by the authority’s new Labour administration after they seized power by overthrowing the former Conservative leader Richard Grosvenor.

Councillor Dennis Fletcher, who brought the motion to a full council meeting, said: “We are in a time when the amount of money the Government gives to councils is reducing, and they want us to deliver things at local level.

“It seemed it was a good idea to do this to enable more bids to be put and met.”

Projects which have entered bids for a share of the Neighbourhood Development Fund include one to fix a church roof in Winshill.

Groups are invited apply for up to £20,000.

Councillor Fletcher moved to reassure people in the area that the increased funding would not come out of the taxpayers’ pocket, but instead would by raised through assets which have been sold.

Despite broad approval for the idea, the administration has been accused of being reckless with the authority’s money.

Speaking after last week’s coup, which saw Councillor Grosvenor ousted from his leadership position by Labour and Independent councillors, Burton MP Andrew Griffiths slated the decision.

“Within minutes of taking control, the group, they spent thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money,” he said.

“It’s an indication of their approach.”

But Councillor Fletcher said he could only see positive implications for the change.

“It’s getting more and more popular every year and success breeds success.” he said.

“As more goes on, more and more people will apply.

“I suspect the pot is going to need to be even bigger in time, but that’s okay, as it’s devolving power down to local people.”

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