Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting WN NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Councillors hand out £240k to groups
MORE than £240,000 has been dished out to worthy causes across Worcestershire by county councillors since April.
The pioneering project, known as the Members Divisional Fund, allows all 57 politicians to spend £10,000 however they want.
Lunch clubs for pensioners, youth centres, schools, sea cadets, churches, dance academies and village halls were just some of the beneficiaries over the last six months.
A total of £246,526 has been dished out to 338 good causes so far in the 2012/13 financial year, out of a pot of £600,000 made available by County Hall. Although most of the handouts were modest, they have made enormous contributions to each community.
Good examples include £500 for a new sculling boat at Worcester Rowing Club from Councillor Sue Askin, and £1,000 for seven new Edwardian lamps at St George’s Square in Barbourne, Worcester from Coun Mary Drinkwater.
Coun Lucy Hodgson handed over £610 to Ronkswood Community Centre for a 12-week drama project to keep youngsters busy, while Coun Penelope Morgan donated £2,500 to upgrade the toilets at Malvern Cube.
Coun Udall said: “My only concern with the fund is that some councillors are having to spend it on areas which used to be covered by the core budget, such as highways maintenance. But it’s still an incredibly useful pot and it gives us a lot of flexibility.
Under the rules, all the payments need to be signed off by a member of staff and are kept on a register which can be viewed by the public.
Beneficiaries also include the homeless, women’s groups, hospice organisations, community transport, money advice centres, toddler and baby groups and volunteers.
The fund launched last year, when the councillors spent a total of £539,594 on 604 worthy causes across Worcestershire. But an unspent £30,000 was added to this year’s pot.
A report on the fund says: “Those organisations, events, individuals and groups who have benefited from contributions from the scheme are many and diverse.”