Anger as grassroots cash gets slashed

Coun Paul Galley and Coun Tony Williams with trees planted in Anchorsholme

Coun Paul Galley and Coun Tony Williams with trees planted in Anchorsholme

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GRASSROOTS cash which is used on community projects looks set to be slashed as part of town hall savings.

Councillors are to have their ward budgets reduced from £25,000 per ward to £20,000 per ward in a move which will save £105,000.

Funding for area forums, which are run by community representatives and attended by residents, is to remain intact.

The proposal has come under fire from the Tories who fear it will damage neighbourhood projects.

Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservatives on Blackpool Council, said: “Ward budgets are used by councillors on all sides of the political mix to support their local schools, friends groups, Scouts and Guides, churches, parks and green spaces, alley gates, and CCTV.

“These reductions will hit more deprived wards harder than others as from next year councillors may not be able to fund larger projects.”

Coun Williams said the burden of cuts should have been shared with the area forums, which he claims are badly attended and are therefore a less fair way of distributing community cash.

He added: “Local councillors are better placed to know which organisation and projects in their wards need support.”

Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said: “Our budget proposals would still leave each ward £20,000 per year to spend on projects and initiatives that will help their local community.

“This is a huge amount of money that I’ve no doubt councillors will use wisely to benefit as many people as possible.

“Each area forum has a pot of money that can be used for everything from supporting a local community group to planting bulbs to enhance an area.”

John Garnham, vice-chairman of the Cherry Tree Area Forum, said: “It doesn’t seem all councillors go out of their way to see what their funding should be spent on, but the forums also need to be more proactive and involve more people in what their funds are being spent on.”