Public vote for SBC funding withdrawn

Connect used their �6000 of Locality Bid Fund money to pay for transport for their summer holiday programme.
Connect used their �6000 of Locality Bid Fund money to pay for transport for their summer holiday programme.

Borders community councils are being asked to consider joining forces to make an official request to be directly involved in how £500,000 of council money is spent.

Earlier this year Scottish Borders Council launched its Localities Bid Fund in which five areas across the Borders (including Berwickshire) were given a share of £500,000 (determined by population size) and local organisations could bid for a share of the money, with members of the public voting for their favourite project.

In round one of the Localities Bid Fund four Berwickshire organisations were successful: Friends of Duns Primary School (£29,000), Duns Amateur Swimming Club (£650), Connect Berwickshire Youth Project (£6,000) and Duns and District Men’s Shed (£7,300).

An evaluation of how it had worked was made and a number of changes were tested in the second round of the pilot - for £296,000. However, things have not gone to plan and last month the Borders Assessment Panel, who decides if the projects submitted meet the revised criteria, decided that “there were not enough sustainable bids to enable a public vote to be undertaken across the five local authorities”.

Jenni Craig, SBC’s service director customer and communities, has written to community councils explaining that it is hoped to relaunch the second round of the Localities Bid Fund in January next year, with voting taking place in April.

“It was agreed that a report be brought to council in November seeking approval to relaunch the scheme and widen the application criteria in an effort to broaden the potential breadth of applications, and ensure members of the public have the opportunity to vote for a wide range of strong community focused projects,” explained Ms Craig.

Ahead of a meeting of Scottish Borders Community Council Network next month, its vice chairman and Eyemouth Community Council chairman James Anderson, is lobbying community councils to push to get involved in how the Localities Bid Fund operates.

Mr Anderson said: “Given the state of affairs within SBC relating to the Locality Bid Fund and lack of participation from the community councils, we will be asking all community councils to join us in officially requesting to be directly involved in the organisation of the fund.

“This is a call to arms to all community councils to get involved, to nominate one person from each to participate in this area of SBC.”