Axe falls on grant funding


Sarah Staples

A POT of money that provides hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of grant funding to local projects will be cut for the next financial year.
Shropshire Council will stop the annual budget given to Local Joint Committees (LJCs) around the county, which is used to supply grants to organisations and groups.
LJC leaders are currently discussing the future of the committees, which have been running since 2009 and have provided more than £3 million to community organisations.
Oswestry and District Arts Association benefited from funding from Oswestry LJC to support art groups in the area and has passed on more than £17,000 to 21 arts-based groups
Funding has been given to the Oswestry Young Persons Writing Squad, Oswestry Drama Project, Llanymynech Amateur Dramatic Society and Porthywaen Silver Band.
Funds were also given to individual musicians to help them further their studies in music.
Hazel Davis, chairman of the Oswestry and District Arts Association, said: “It has been an enormous support to us and as an organisation we are disappointed we will not have this any more.
“But we will continue to operate and we won’t put our heads in the sand. We will continue to support our members and find other funding avenues to keep going.
“Just because the funding has stopped it doesn’t mean we will stop, it’s all about supporting the groups in the area and finding different ways to fund ourselves.”
Don Howell of the Oswestry Sports Council, said the organisation was given £3,500 a year to support sports clubs in the area.
Recently the Sports Council gave £400 to Llanymynech Youth Club to help start a skate park, £350 to Oswestry Cricket Club to help maintain the pitch and £200 to help new basketball team, Oswestry Wizards, purchased much-needed equipment.
Oswestry Otters swimming club also benefited from £500 to help fund their training throughout the year.
Mr Howell: “We have been conscious of using public money and we thank you very much for giving us the grant this year. We will be sorry to see you go.”
Angela Bright, a member of the Gobowen, Selattyn, St Martins and Weston Rhyn LJC, said: “I think it is a shame the grant budget has stopped, it was one of the better ideas of the council.
“It has been wonderful to support local groups, there are those who needed financial support to start and those who were in trouble and needed the funding to keep going.”
David Lloyd, Shropshire and Selattyn and Gobowen parish councillor, added: “In my view the LJC has provided a bridge between villages and has taken Gobowen and made it part of a group and got all the villages working together.
“The allocation of money added an incentive for people to go along and we had good numbers attending.
“We had not only helped many community projects but we have been able to support start-ups too.
“It has been a trigger for action and I hope LJCs will continue because communities and villages working together can achieve great things. The money helped but there is still a need for people to work together.”
Gwilym Butler, cabinet member responsible for partnership working at Shropshire Council, said: “Although everyone in the public sector is in a difficult financial position, we are innovating and looking at how services can be provided at a local level with the minimum interference from the council.
“I have been talking to LJC chairs about the future arrangements and have asked them to take the discussion back to their committee so they can be at the heart of developing their role over the coming months and years.
“I don’t think anyone is surprised that the council will not be able to provide a budget for the next financial year.
“Times have changed, but LJCs can still be a vital part of local democracy – they can provide influence in the way services are delivered locally, source external funding, and of course parish and town councils can raise their own funding if they feel their local community needs a particular facility.”

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