South Ribble Borough Council has allocated the cash as part of the first payout from its Boost Fund to back initiatives identified by the five neighbourhood forums in the area.
A full council meeting of the authority heard that applications outstripped the total available pot of £25,000 by over £20,000 – and that a decision had been taken to offer all but one of the bids half of the total amounts that were sought.
The forums will be expected to stump up the rest of the money from their existing resources, which councillors were told are in a healthy state because of the limited opportunities to spend them during the pandemic.
The largest single amount from the fund – £7,250 – was handed to the Bamber Bridge Foodbank as a contribution towards premises, part of a bid put forward by the Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall and Walton-le-Dale forum.
In the Eastern Parishes, Gregson Lane Playing Fields has received over £6,300 for new changing facilities.
Two projects proposed by the Leyland and Farington forum scooped a share of the cash – with over £3,300 for footpath improvements at Farington Lodges and £2,500 to create a new, more accessible entrance to the Eagle and Child Bowling Club.
The Penwortham forum helped secure just over £1,000 for new signage for the St. Mary’s and Rawstorne Road conservation areas, along with £900 to support additional mental health awareness work. The latter was the only project not to receive half of the requested amount, because of “overlap” with a borough-wide initiative to provide community mental health first aiders.
The Western Parishes forum did not submit any bids on this occasion, but Longton and Hutton West ward councillor Colin Coulton said that there were “a few in the pipeline” for the next round of bids – including the creation of a Western Parishes Wheel for cycling and walking and a heritage trail.
Cabinet member for communities, social justice and wealth building, Aniela Bylinski Gelder, said that the oversubscription of the Boost Fund showed “the demand for community projects”.
“I hope fellow councillors are as excited for their communities as I am and the community benefits that these projects will deliver,” she added.
The next bidding opportunity will come in October, when another £25,000 will be available, along with the underspend of just over £3,500 from round one.
Coupe Green and Gregson Lane councillor Gareth Watson said that the new changing facilities for Gregson Lane Playing Fields were “long overdue” and would help ensure that the local cricket team “doesn’t get relegated”
He also praised the concept of the fund, adding: “Considering the amount of money that goes into it proportionate to other things, it has a disproportionately large effect on the communities – it’s very positive and I’m glad it’s been dealt with so equitably and fairly,” Cllr Watson said.
Broadfield councillor – and cabinet member for finance – Matthew Tomlinson also welcomed the cash to create an access point to the Eagle and Child Bowling Club that will comply with disability legislation.
“It’s a great little club that ticks so many boxes that are within our corporate priorities – whether it’s physical activity, mental health or intergenerational working,” he said.
The bids were each assessed by Cllr Bylinski Gelder and council leader Paul Foster.