An independent Lichfield councillor says she will not accept money for a new micro-grants scheme after it emerged the funds would be paid direct into the bank accounts of elected members.

The new scheme was given the backing of Lichfield District Council’s cabinet this week.

It will see £300 given to each member to use to support community organisations.

But after it emerged that the money would be paid to councillors for them to distribute, Cllr Joanne Grange said she would not be willing to receive the payment.

Joanne Grange

“The micro grants issue is a good idea, but using councillors’ own bank accounts to administer the scheme is not.

“My bank account is for my personal banking, not for distributing taxpayers’ money and hence I will not be accepting the cash.”

Cllr Joanne Grange, Lichfield District Council

Questions were raised at cabinet over the audit trail behind any payments, with Cllr Ashley Yeates saying members would need to provide proof of where they had distributed the funding.

But Cllr Grange said there were many pitfalls to the proposal to pay money directly to councillors in the first instance.

“The ‘rules’ on distribution are open to interpretation. It is easy to see how making a decision about who gets the funds could be a judgement, and there could be disagreements about what is considered ‘appropriate’ resulting in allegations of financial impropriety through a difference of opinion.

“As a chartered accountant, being accused of or found guilty of such impropriety – however unlikely – is a risk I am not prepared to take.

“Being found, as a result of someone’s opinion, to have misused £300 of public funds would be career ending.”

Cllr Joanne Grange, Lichfield District Council

Despite saying she would reject the process, Cllr Grange said she was keen to find a way to make the scheme work.

“If there are any groups in Chadsmead that would benefit from £300 – or a share thereof – let me know and we’ll come up with a solution.

“But it won’t involve me letting the council send £300 to my personal bank account for some, as yet, unknown purpose.”

Cllr Joanne Grange, Lichfield District Council

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13 Comments

  1. Well done councillor Grange. Totally agree. Never know what you could be accused of in the future.

  2. I absolutely agree with Councillor Grange on this issue.

    The arrogance and ignorance of whoever has come up with this suggestion is astounding.
    Like Cllr Grange, there is no way my personal bank account will be being used for the distribution of council funds.

    When I refer to arrogance and ignorance above, the arrogance is the assumption that the council has some given right to make use of personal bank accounts for their own purpose. They do not and have no permission to use mine.

    The ignorance is the complete lack of understanding of people’s personal circumstances and the risks that this plan poses. Let’s suppose someone has an overdraft rather than a personal account that is in credit. That £300 will disappear in an instant should the bank decide to close or reduce that overdraft at some point before it is redistributed. Let’s also suppose that someone has a job outside of council that requires the utmost standards of integrity and honesty to be maintained. A simple yet unfounded allegation being made, which suggests misappropriation of funds could cost someone their reputation and livelihood even if it is malicious. Let’s also suppose someone has a partner and a joint account and due to the nature of their relationship they do not have 100% control over spending. What happens then if the money goes missing but not at the hand of the Councillor?

    The suggestion is farcicle and shows an unprofessional and amateurish approach by the LDC cabinet to the handling of public money. I guess however, after the huge losses from Friarsgate and the recent land sale debacle, we should expect no less.

  3. Is this actually happening???? First of all, good for you Joanne Grange, for not taking part. As usual, you’re the voice of common sense.

    Secondly, at a time when public trust in councillors is at an all time low, due to failed projects, financial mismanagement, meeting held behind closed doors, public land being mysteriously sold off (I could go on), we have money being paid directly to councillors to “distribute”??

    What IS this council playing at???

  4. So as this is public money and I’m a resident of LDC when do I get access to councillor’s personal bank records so I can check the £300 is being used properly?

    Seems a reasonable request as we get to see LDC’s financial records. So as this is LDC money, I would like to keep a close eye on how it is being spent.

    So access once a month to statements of all LDC councillors personal bank accounts please. Make it so Cllr Pullen. Purely in the interests of openness, engagement accountability and reasonable scrutiny.

  5. Totally agree with Councillor Grange. Think it is an appalling idea . . . . . all sorts of implications. . . . . . .what does the Inland Revenue think of this arrangement?

  6. A recipe for corruption if ever I saw one. Well done to Councillors Grange and Birch for speaking out against it.

  7. Everyone who came up with the idea of putting money in to personal accounts for further distribution should be removed from any position which involves dealing with public money because they obviously cannot be trusted with it. Councillor Grange’s stance is the only correct one and that she can be praised for it only demonstrates the incompetence of everyone who has gone along with it.

  8. I blame Father Ted Crilly since he was elected onto the Parish Council? That money was also just resting in his account.

  9. Which idiot proposed the payment in this way? And well done Joanne for, yet again, being the voice of reason…

  10. I totally agree with Councillor Grange what an incompetent decision. its ok that £300 is distributed on different local priorities declared to council prior to actioned but should be paid from central funds . Suppose those with an overdraft would be happy.

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