Published:
January 18, 2017
Town council considers 'sub-contracting' its grants fund to third-party

Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge Town Council is considering 'sub-contracting' the provision of local grants to a third-party group, Somerset Community Foundation.

Town Council Clerk Denise Emery said at Monday's Policy and Finance Committee meeting that she has held talks with the community organisation regarding the possibility of it managing the council's £45,000 annual grants fund.

"As experts in community grants, they would be ideally placed to manage the grants process and deal with the administration, taking a 10 per cent 'commission'," she said.

"The town council would still have the final say on which groups get the funding and there would be due diligence in place."

"We feel the business-related grants for the likes of Christmas lights would not be included as that's not where the group's expertise sits."

She added that the foundation has visibility of other local grant funding streams, such as EDF's Hinkley Point C community grants, that could lead to reduced reliance on grant applications from the Town Council.

Cllr Mike Facey, Chairman of the Policy and Finance Committee, said he supports the idea but said more details would be required before a decision is made. "The cost to us is not exorbitant and I think it could suit us," he said.

But Cllr Janet Keen, right, said she is not in favour of the idea. "I feel this is not for us, I don't like it. We are the closest link to parishioners and are best placed to respond on the spot to local applications. Going down this route would also mean we'd have £4,500 less to give out to local groups in grant funding every year."

Cllr John Parkes added: "We have the best first-hand experience locally, but Somerset Community Foundation would give us improved monitoring of grants and they have a good track record of handling grants. They will also be handling millions of pounds of EDF grants in the years to come and are a key player - I support the idea."

Cllr Paul Young added: "Is 10% a reasonable charge for this? It feels an enormous amount to me, quite exorbitant, when others such as estate agents get a far smaller 3% commission."

Cllr Andy Brewer said no decision could be made without knowing the implications in more detail.

Cllr Phil Harvey said the idea could work, but suggested a further meeting with the Foundation's representatives to discuss the matter in more detail. Further talks will be held.

 

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