A NEIGHBOURHOOD has been given a £1m boost – and residents will choose how to spend it.
Those living in the Dyke House area of Hartlepool are being given the seven-figure sum to spruce up their estates over the next 10 years.
The grant is part of a scheme by the Big Lottery Fund to put decision-making powers in the hands of communities.
Projects in other parts of the country have seen new community facilities built, training and employment opportunities created, plans put in place to tackle anti-social behaviour and activities put on for young people.
Dyke House councillor Stephen Thomas called the £1m grant “a great piece of news during at a difficult time”.
The Labour councillor added: “The area has been hard hit by Government spending cuts and they have disproportionately affected our community. It has extremely high youth unemployment and regeneration projects in the area are now going extremely slowly.
“It’s great that local people will be fully involved in identifying where the money goes to, but it’s important to remember that this money is not enough.
“It will not make up for the personal loss people are going through and the massive cuts we are suffering with.”
The money comes from a £200m Big Lottery Fund scheme called Big Local.
Charity bosses say the communities selected to receive £1m have a history of difficulty in getting funding and face a range of issues such as high unemployment, low average wages or few activities.
The Big Lottery Fund commissioned a YouGov survey that shows that the majority of people, 74 per cent, think local people and community groups know best when it comes to spending grants.
James Turner, Big Lottery Fund head for the region, said: “This funding scheme is going to put residents in these areas at the heart of decision making and give them a real say in how to improve their local area.
“But more than that, it’s going to strengthen these communities and help local people to build on their skills and experience so that they can continue to work together to overcome challenges, address local problems, and make a positive difference in their communities over the next ten years, and beyond.”
The scheme is being managed by Local Trust, a recently established independent organisation set up by the Community Development Foundation and its consortium partners to run Big Local.
Big Local representatives will bring residents and groups together to learn about the scheme, create strategies to get people involved and then help with deciding what the area’s priorities are.
A plan will then be drawn up detailing how the £1m will be spent over the next decade.
Residents will also be encouraged to use sustainable ways of financing, such as giving loans or funding social enterprises where money could be reinvested in the community.
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