A councillor says he hopes a funding scheme for community groups will see more organisations supported going forward.
Lichfield District Council launched the Councillor Local Community Fund as a two-year pilot scheme in 2021.
It sees each member of the local authority given £300 to distribute to local organisations in their wards.
A review of the first year was debated at a meeting of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee last week, where it was revealed that only £933.27 of the money allocated to the scheme was not distributed.
Cllr Ashley Yeates, Conservative member for Mease Valley, said he was pleased a report on the first year had shown the scheme was making a difference to local organisations – but was keen to see even more reached during the next 12 months of the fund.
“I’d like to see next year that people aren’t giving money to the same organisations they did this year but are finding new groups to help.
“The report says we are helping a lot of people with small things, but have made some big differences. To read that was great.”Cllr Ashley Yeates, Lichfield District Council
Questions were also asked by the vice-chair over why some councillors had not allocated any of their funding whatsoever.
Cllr Steve Norman, Labour representative for Chase Terrace, said:
“In Fazeley no monies at all given by either of the councillors, yet a quick look at the Fazeley website shows that there are about 25 different organisations there they could have contacted to ask if they wanted some money.
“In my case, I was collared early on by groups but had to chase a little bit – but it’s down to members to communicate that the money is available.”Cllr Steve Norman, Lichfield District Council
“It places councillors in a difficult position”
With a total of £933.72 underspent, members of the committee were also exploring what should happen to the remain funding.
Cllr Yeates suggested any surplus could be handed over to We Love Lichfield, but Cllr Alastair Little, independent member for Hammerwich with Wall, said the funding should not be allocated on behalf of members who had chosen not to take part in the scheme.
“If after the pilot scheme ends whatever is left goes to a certain organisation, it creates a bad image as we’ll be seen to have chosen one over another – it places councillors in a difficult position.
“Although I don’t agree with them, if a councillor on a political judgement doesn’t want to enter into the scheme because they want the money used elsewhere, then that’s their political decision. To say that if they don’t use it it will go to an organisation they didn’t approve, it’s a gross misconduct of the fund, because by not using it then it will, by default, go to someone they didn’t approve.
“It has been allocated to a specific councillor in a specific ward. If there is an underspend it should go back into Lichfield District Council coffers.”Cllr Alastair Little, Lichfield District Council
The next year of the Councillor Local Community Fund is expected to launch next month.