A new community micro-grants scheme should be delayed due to concerns over the way it will be administered, the vice chair of Lichfield District Council’s scrutiny committee has said.

The local authority has drawn up the scheme which would see each of the 47 councillors given £300 to help support local groups.

But Cllr Steve Norman, leader of the Labour opposition group at Lichfield District Council, said the £14,100 project should be paused until concerns from members have been fully addressed.

Cllr Steve Norman

“There is nothing new in such a grant scheme – locally Staffordshire Moorlands and East Staffordshire have similar schemes in addition to many others, but the cabinet at Lichfield is proposing one of the least generous grants, just £300 per councillor compared to £500 at Staffs Moorlands. 

“On top of that, however, and what has concerned members from all sides, is the desire by the Conservative cabinet to do this on the cheap.

“While scrutiny had a chance to look at a draft of the scheme, it was changed when it got to Cabinet proposing that the £300 was paid into the bank accounts of councillors for it then to paid to the successful applicants. 

“There were howls of protest over this of course and a virtual ‘training session’ – a briefing really – held last week failed to address members questions. 

“I believe the guidance and rules can be improved and have asked for support from the chairman of the new scrutiny committee to ask the leader to agree a delay in its implementation while a task group looks at the concerns raised.” 

Cllr Steve Norman, Lichfield District Council

The backlash over the planned administration of the scheme saw an alternative proposal for the distribution of funds drawn up.

But Cllr Norman said there were still issues surrounding the role members will play in managing the data of those who apply for the funding.

“Some members have said they do not currently intend to take part because the onus seems to be entirely on the councillor to check out the applicants and if they were to be reported to the Audit and Standards Board their own careers could be affected.”

Cllr Steve Norman, Lichfield District Council

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2 Comments

  1. Regardless of your political persuasion, I can’t help thinking some of LDC’s councillors should pause and listen to the grown ups for a while.

    There was an unseemly social media spat recently prompted by one of these councillors making a rather juvenile, ignorant and misguided dig at Cllr Joanne Grange, who has been vocal in her criticism of this scheme. I think Cllr Grange, Cllr Norman and and several other members who have expressed concerns about how this scheme will operate have taken a very mature and professional approach to this issue.

    As a council tax payer I find this scheme laudable in principle, but fundamentally flawed in the way it has been designed.

    LDC really does need to listen to the likes of Cllrs Grange and Norman and the public support they are generating for their stances on this scheme.

    A significant amount of trust is required of this scheme – not least that council tax payers feel they can trust councillors to spend this £300 wisely and responsibly. As it stands that element of trust is pretty much non-existent. And it is not going to be boosted by the petulant, ill-informed and pathetic social media postings of some of LDC’s members.

    Local politics should be grown-up politics boys and girls.

  2. Spend £300 wisely? What? With the track record from Friarsgate onwards who knows what we can trust them with?

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