October 21, 2015
Town Council to tighten up rules around grant funding for local groups

Town councillors in Burnham-On-Sea want clearer rules put in place around how grants are given to local groups in a bid to increase accountability and reduce duplication of some costs.

Over 20 event organisers attended a meeting in Burnham's Town Council Chambers on Monday evening, as pictured, where Cllr David Hogarth explained that a number of proposed changes are necessary.

He said: "The council has limited finances and we don't have an unstoppable flow of money. The amount given in grants may well be reduced in future and we need to think about how we use financial resources to best advantage. Lots of groups come to us wanting money, but we may not continue to be able to help them all."

Cllr Phil Harvey explained that while the Town Council has a budget of around £40,000 a year to help local groups with capital and events grants, that figure may be reduced as Sedgemoor District Council reduces its revenue support funding.

Cllr Hogarth went on to say that he's "amazed at the lack of accountability around Town Council grants to local groups - in fact I have been absolutely stunned. There is no auditing to check that funding goes to where it should - we just say here's the money, get on with it. That isn't right when it's tax payers' money and we need far greater accountability in place."

But Cllr Peter Burridge-Clayton said: "We definitely don't just give grants and turn a blind eye. We ask for audited accounts and to see the group's constitution. When large grants are given to groups like Project Coach, we ask them for regular updates on progress and financial statements."

However, Cllr Phil Harvey conceded: "We are not so good as a council at checking that the money has been spent how it should be, and that can change."

The council therefore wants to see local groups give measures of success when they apply for grants so that when funding is awarded, the council can clearly see if the benefits have been delivered.

The council is also also keen to see groups working closer together to pool resources and plan events together rather than going separate ways.

The council is seeking earlier sight of advance requests for funding from local groups at the start of the calendar year so that it can better plan its distribution of funding.

Furthermore, the council wants the standard of grant applications and presentations to be improved - it says that it will put clearer rules in place to encourage this.

The council also wants to see better sharing of resources used by local groups and events to avoid repeat financial requests for the same items.

The group is to meet again early in 2016 and proposals will be put before the full town council.


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