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Craven District Council grants decision delayed
The handing out of grants from a new Craven District Council fund has stalled after councillors disagreed over who should get what.
Five projects, including one to create workspace at the former Ingleton Middle School, had been recommended by the council’s community grants sub-committee to receive the money.
But the council will now reconsider all applications at a special meeting in January.
The committee was also told that senior officers had encouraged one outside organisation to apply for a grant in order to run the council’s bulky waste service.
Coun Paul English (Lib Dem), volunteer treasurer of Craven Recycled Furniture Store, told councillors that he had been stunned to learn it had not been recommended to receive a grant.
Coun English, who was speaking at the meeting as a member of the management board, claimed that the organisation had been “courted” by senior officers with a view to taking on the council-run service.
It had applied for a grant of £57,000 towards the £129,000 project, with most of the remaining money coming from projected income.
“After five months of meetings with senior officers of the council, we believed we were in a good position, but now we feel like a bride left at the altar,” he said.
He said it was his opinion that the project had fulfilled most of the criteria and had been stunned when it had received a zero rating for some areas, such as community benefit.
The working group of the grants sub-committee, which has spent several weeks considering the applications of 16 groups and organisations, recommended that the project should not be supported. It further recommended that the matter of the future of the bulky waste service should be referred to the council’s policy committee.
The grants would come from the localism reserve fund, one of three council reserves for the investment of its New Home Bonus – a Government payment for every new home and property brought back into use.
The meeting also heard from Roger Beck of The Coulthurst Craven Sports Centre (Sandylands), which had its grant application rejected by the working group.
The centre wanted £10,000 towards a £25,740 project to install solar panels, but it was deemed not in the spirit of the fund, which is to support innovative projects.
Mr Beck said the solar panels would significantly reduce the centre’s costs, allowing it to invest elsewhere for the benefit of everyone in the community.
Sharon Hudson, the council’s communication and partnerships manager, told the committee that the localism fund had not been set up to support existing projects, but to support innovative new ones.
She said the working group realised it would receive many applications for ongoing projects, but the intention was to encourage innovation in Craven.
The five groups which had been recommended to receive money were: Ingleton Middle Community Interest’s i-Centre; Craven College’s Full Circle Craven project; Craven Connects; Building a Better Bentham; and Online Retail Business Growth Programme.