A pilot scheme to allow county councillors to support community projects in their divisions has seen £349,996 given to 376 schemes across North Yorkshire so far.
The funding scheme, called County Councillor Locality Budgets, which is being piloted for two years, allows each of the 72 county councillors to respond to local needs and requests by recommending funding of up to a total of £5,000 for each of the two years to support projects or activities that benefit the communities they represent.
The first round of funding ended on 11 March and a second round, which ends next February, is now under way.
The 376 recommendations approved in the first year was an average of just over five per county councillor. The funding was allocated to a broad range of projects and activities, with the largest allocations going to those supporting environmental improvements, village and community hall improvements, non-school activities for children and young people, and support for vulnerable adults.
The latest approved recommendations include a defibrillator to be installed in the Valley Gardens, Harrogate, thanks to £800 from the budget of Cllr Don Mackenzie, Member for Harrogate Saltergate. He supported an initiative from the Rev Sue Pearce, a member of the clergy team at St Peter’s Church, Harrogate, who earlier this year was involved in the installation of a defibrillator on the church wall in the centre of town.
Cllr Mackenzie said: “Valley Gardens is one of the best publicly maintained gardens in the whole country and very busy with lots of visitors,” he said. “People will be comforted by the thought of a life-saving defibrillator nearby.”
And £750 was approved from Boroughbridge Member Cllr Robert Windass’s budget to go towards the creation of a bird and bee meadow in the Millennium Garden at Boroughbridge Primary School, which will act as an environmental teaching tool for the pupils.
Other approved recommendations include £450 for an improvement project at Tholthorpe Village Hall, £500 to provide support for pupils attending Oxbridge Summer School at Norton College, £500 for new bench seating at the old tennis courts at Barlow Village Hall and £300 for a replacement events shelter for the 1st Glusburn Brownies.
County Councillor David Chance, Executive Member for Stronger Communities, said: “The Locality Budgets scheme enables county councillors to support projects that directly promote the social, economic or environmental wellbeing of their communities. It also gives our councillors the opportunity to work jointly to recommend a grant to a single project or activity if it falls across area boundaries.
“Whilst the County Council has to make significant savings, County Councillor Locality Budgets are part of the wider work we are doing to develop stronger communities across North Yorkshire that use their skills and assets to develop, with the council and others, a range of local support and services that maximise the wellbeing of local people of all ages.”
A full list of approved recommendations can be found on the council’s websitewww.northyorks.gov.uk/localitybudgets.