A pilot scheme for a new initiative to help fund local projects is in the process of being rolled out across Bath and North East Somerset. Known as the ‘Councillors Initiative’, the scheme aims to give communities a boost by allowing local councillors the freedom to allocate funds to local projects.
Funding for the pilot scheme was included in the Conservatives’ first council budget after their success in last year’s local elections and formed the administration. The Conservatives say that they hope that next year every ward in the Authority can benefit from ‘Councillors Initiative’ funds, though it must depend on the success of this year’s pilot scheme and is subject to tight budgetary conditions following the credit crunch. Under the initiative, each Councillor is allocated £4,000 to donate to local projects in their area which will benefit the community and might otherwise struggle for funding. Conservatives in B&NES have said they devised the scheme as part of their drive to empower communities and focus on issues that matter to local people, whilst giving local councillors greater freedom in their areas.
The wards included in the pilot scheme are:
Publow & Whitchurch
Commenting on the scheme Council Leader Cllr Francine Haeberling said:
“This is an innovative and exciting scheme which will really benefit communities throughout the region. Helping neighbourhood projects is a key part of the Conservatives’ drive to empower local people and allow Councillors the freedom to focus on the priorities of their area. The idea of this initiative is to give the icing on cake to community projects that might otherwise struggle.”
Giving an example of how the Councillors Initiative money can be spent, Cllr Peter Edwards (Con, Publow & Whitchurch) explained how he is using the money in his ward:
“In Whitchurch we are going to be using the money from the Councillors Initiative scheme to help out a vegetable garden project which I have been involved in. Community projects like creating new allotments for local residents to enjoy is exactly the type of thing which this scheme can help promote. Part of these allotments will also be allocated to the children of Whitchurch Primary School to help in their education, which is another added bonus this scheme.
“It is great to have the freedom of our own local budget to give neighbourhoods a boost, and the local residents and Parish Council who have organised it said the help will be very welcome. This scheme is great because it gives us, as local councillors, the ability to get stuck in with community projects.”