CASH POT: £22,000 fund created for Preston community project bids

Councillor Martyn Rawlinson
Councillor Martyn Rawlinson
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A cash pot of £22,000 is to be created by city leaders, to encourage communities to bid for money for new projects.

Preston Council bosses will bring in the new fund this spring, equivalent to £1,000 for every ward in the city, which is designed to set up new neighbourhood initiatives.

And councillors will then be able to bid for a share of the money to improve their local areas.

Coun Martyn Rawlinson, the council’s cabinet member for resources, said: “We have created a new fund that councillors can bid with their communities for new projects.

“It’s got to be something brand new, from scratch. It will be the councillor that applies but they would need to demonstrate that they have support from the community, and that the project is sustainable beyond the initial funding.

“They can bid anything between zero and £22,000. If somebody comes up with a fantastic idea for £22,000, they could get the lot.

“But I expect it to be lots of smaller projects.”

The new fund is designed to encourage councillors to be creative within the community.

Coun Rawlinson said: “With the council’s funding shrinking so much, the council may not have the capacity to do as much work in the communities as we have done, so we really need the councillors to take more of a lead in creating and leading projects in the community.

“At the moment, it’s a one-off fund and we will evaluate how it went and see if we do it again.”

One of the criteria for winning the cash is that the projects must link to the council’s “corporate priorities”, such as the environment.

Coun Rawlinson said: “It could be a brand new food growing project somewhere, it could be something like a tool loan scheme for fixing bikes.

“There are lots of community groups doing things and people don’t know about them, so they might think of a project that improves community communications.

“If somebody comes up with an idea that’s really good, we might be able to replicate it across the city.”

He said the cash-strapped council could afford to fund the initiative as a “one-off” cash pot, and the scheme would begin in April.