Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Give grants because
they need them
 - not just because
they ask

It must be a happy state of affairs in these times of recession and hardship to know just how well off you are likely to be in five years’ time – and that appears to be the fortunate state that Boston Borough Council’s Town Area Committee appears to be in.
The BTAC committee meets today to discuss two main items – the first is its budget estimates for the period 2012/13 until 2016/17, and the second is to consider applications for five community grants.
In terms of the future budget, BTAC seems to be very well placed - being likely to carry forward reserves of £9,600 from the current financial year rising by 2016-17 to more than £30,000.
For those who wonder what BTAC is, it acts as a kind for “parish council” for the town area, and part of its brief includes the provision and maintenance of urban open spaces, play areas, allotments and seats as well as other facilities and services mainly intended for the use and benefit of residents for the “non-parished” Boston town area.
And as we heard earlier, it makes community development grants to town-based organisations and events.
Five such applications totalling £4,450 are on tonight’s agenda.
Whilst all of them are deserving in their own way, we do wonder about whether the committee should rubber stamp them all – as they most probably will.
We used to be involved in the operation of a county wide charity appeal, and noticed the regularity with which some organisations tapped up our money pot year in, year out – and also a number that were perfectly capable of finding money themselves but could not resist the appeal of something more for nothing.
We were reminded of this last month, when BTAC handed over £5,000 to our old friends the South Lincolnshire Community and Voluntary Service towards the £15,000 needed to run next year’s Boston Community Showcase.
SLCVS is an organisation that is awash with money - on top of which it receives generous extra amounts each year from Boston Borough Council.
In fairness, BTAC did raise an eyebrow at the application, but eventually approved it with the idea that it would effectively underwrite the event and hope to recoup some of it from the borough council. Some hopes there! SLCVS also undertook to continue to seek funding from other sources which would further reduce the BTAC contribution – but again, we don’t think that we will be buying tickets for that particular event.
Two applications to this evening’s meeting caught our eye.
The first was for £1,000 to stage a 30-week ceramic workshop at Fydell House, which we feel is scarcely a town-only project.
The second is an application for £900 from the Witham East Placecheck Group which is creating an “organic” bike track – and after allocating funding has been told by Boston Borough Council to have it professionally landscaped.
Placecheck areas – which again employ the SLCVS - receive £10,000 to spend on local projects (with another £10,000 being spent on administration) and it seems wrong after having been given so much money that a group should come back and ask for even more.
Particularly so when we learn that among the other projects funded from the £10,000 kitty was £1,680 for eight additional litter bins supplied by Boston Borough Council. If they are that essential, should the council not be providing them as part of its civic responsibility?
As we said at the outset – it’s nice to be awash with wealth - but that makes it all the more important to spend wisely and well.

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