£1k giveaways under spotlight

PROPOSALS that would see High Peak Borough councillors have £1,000 of taxpayer’s money to donate to community groups and organisations in their area have been put under the spotlight.

The scheme would replace Going Local which saw £10,000 distributed to each of the four areas of the borough.

HPBC leader councillor Caitlin Bisknell told a meeting of Whaley Bridge Town Council: “One of the reasons for moving away from Going Local forums was that no-one had been entirely sure how it was divided up.”

By giving individual councillors a small pot of money they could help local schemes, local groups or small works and possibly help attract matched funding.

However, Councillor David Lomax, who questioned how far £1,000 would go said: “The Going Local Fund hasn’t worked in some areas, but it has worked far better in the central area – I would say that being Chair of it– where there has been some accountability.”

Cllr Bisknell said: “There is nothing to stop three borough councillors grouping together with their individual £1,000 to make £3,000 and put it X, Y or Z. It gives you different options and different opportunities.”

Cllr Barrie Taylor, a member of the county council where a similar scheme operates, said he had never really supported its principle: “It is very difficult not to politicise these sort of things.” He said he had noticed that near to elections a significant number of small donations were made.

Cllr Bisknell said there would need to be some sort of checks and balances in place, particularly around election time.

The proposal is expected to go before High Peak Borough Council.