BROMSGROVE Liberal Democrats and the Independent councillors have criticised the leading Conservative Group’s decision to scrap the community grants scheme which was paid for by cash from the New Homes Bonus scheme.
In our report on the 2022/23 Bromsgrove District Council budget last week, the Conservatives labelled not using NHB cash for community grants as ‘among the party’s hardest decisions’ but said the revenue generated by it was needed to ‘support the authority’s overall financial position’.
But the Lib Dems and Independents called it a ‘kick in the teeth to kind-hearted voluntary groups’.
Last year the council topped up £12,000 New Homes Bonus funding with £68,000 Covid funding to create an £80,000 pot to support local communities.
The programme was oversubscribed and the council was not able to award all the bids. However, a total of £79,898 was allocated to over 20 good causes, including rehabilitation services, counselling sessions and community safety schemes.
This year the Government granted Bromsgrove Council £363,000 in New Homes Bonus funding but none of it has been allocated to a dedicated grant scheme the community can bid for.
The Lib Dems and Independents appealed to the ruling group to save the group, saying it accounted for less than one per cent of the council’s total annual budget.
After negotiations failed, the Independent and Lib Dem groups tabled an amendment at last week’s meeting to reinstate £55,000 for the grant scheme but the proposal was voted down by the Conservatives.
Coun Charlie Hotham, from the Bromsgrove Independents East Group, said he ‘agreed with 99.8 per cent of the budget but felt the community grants scheme was just too precious to be lost’.
Seconding the amendment, Liberal Democrat councillor Siobhan Robison said: “I’m appalled these good causes will no longer be able to appeal to the district council’s community fund for help.
“This is a kick in the teeth to our kind-hearted local voluntary groups who deserve better.”
Coun Steve Colella, leader of the Bromsgrove Independents West Group, said he was disappointed residents would lose out.