Civic cash for wards

CHANGES have been agreed to the way a council distributes a pot of cash to community groups.

Hartlepool Borough Council has agreed to alter the process for grants from the Civic Lottery Fund, with the cash now being shared out between the 11 different wards in town.

Under the previous system, a committee met to decide which applicants were successful, but it has now been agreed to change the process.

This year’s pot is just over £17,000 so there will be £500 per councillor or £1,500 per ward available for groups and organisations to apply for.

The decision was taken by the finance and policy committee.

Councillors were given three options, to transfer the responsibility of the Civic Lottery to another committee other than finance and policy, to allocate the awards on a ward by ward basis alongside the member ward budgets for all 33 councillors or to keep the current process.

It was agreed the grants would be administered on a ward basis and reported annually to the council’s neighbourhood services committee.

Labour councillor Chris Simmons said: “This seems to be a suitably sensible way of dealing with this.

“The ward members will have a more in-depth knowledge of the groups that operate within their wards.”

During the meeting,it was confirmed that no successful bidding group would be eligible to apply again for the Civic Lottery Fund cash within three years and that new applicants would be given preference over repeat applications.

Concerns were raised about the impact that may have on smaller groups, but officers said groups could still apply for funding from the separate ward member budgets, which is currently £5,000 per year per councillor.

From 1977 until 1982 a Civic Lottery was promoted by Hartlepool Borough Council, and a Civic Lottery Fund was established.

Officers said its original objective was to raise money for leisure, recreational or environmental projects. The Civic Lottery stopped in 1982 and restrictions apply to any spending of the capital reserve without specific Secretary of State approval.

A council report said the total funding available in 2013-2014 is £17,023, while the capital investment of £427,000 remains untouched.