Community grants to be decided today

Salisbury Journal: The new gym at Verwood Hub - one of the things managed by VALA The new gym at Verwood Hub - one of the things managed by VALA

EAST Dorset District Council’s Community Committee will decide on grants of more than £255,000 for community groups and organisations today.

The grants include cash for the Verwood Community and Leisure Amenities committee (VALA), East Dorset Citizens’ Advice Bureau, Dorset Community Action (DCA) and Volunteering Dorset.

The grants are made to organisations that work in partnership with the council and come recommended by a “task and finish group” which has looked at all the grants previously awarded.

Those three-year grants are now up for renewal and the group has considered each of them against a set of criteria as to whether grants for a further three years should be awarded and, if so, how much those grants should be.

Criteria used include whether the group runs a service or building on behalf of the council, whether the group provides a service complementary to the council’s corporate objectives and which otherwise the council would have to provide itself, how critical the funding is to the delivery of the service or building and how critical the service provided by the group is to the community.

Cllr Barbara Manuel, chairman of the task and finish group, said: “These are very difficult times for local authorities and we have to be very careful about how our reduced funds are spent.

“However, we are aware that many community groups do excellent work for our residents with limited resources.

“By applying our criteria we believe we have come up with a fair way of assessing the level of grant we are prepared to commit to each of the community groups. We understand there will be some groups who may be disappointed to learn that we are recommending reduced funding, but all the organisations will be able to apply for small grants for specific projects.”

The group proposes that DCA’s grant should be reduced from £8,000 a year to £6,000 for the next three years, and Volunteering Dorset’s should be reduced from £6,000 a year by £1,000 each year to hit £3,000 in three years’ time.

The charity has recruited 75 new volunteers in the last year, when it publicised more than 300 volunteering opportunities.

It is proposed that community radio station Forest FM should get a similarly reducing grant, from £5,000 to £2,000.

Dorset runaways service Re-Run, which received £4,000 a year, is proposed to get nothing because it benefits “very small numbers” in the district.

Similarly, Mediation Dorset could have its £900pa withdrawn.

Arts +’s £3,000 grant could be reduced to £500 over three years as only a small number of people in the district benefit.

The Dorset Blind Association could also see its £2,500 scrapped.

The local CAB would still have its £76,000 a year as its services support a number of council initiatives, but VALA’s £131,000 a year is under review as part of the wider changes to leisure services in Verwood.

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