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Ceredigion councillor criticises Cabinet decision on community grants cut

Ceredigion County Council

A CEREDIGION councillor has hit out at a Cabinet decision to no longer allow town and community councils to apply for a county council community grants scheme.

At the June 3 meeting of Ceredigion County Council’s Cabinet, members were recommended to approve an updated Ceredigion Community Grant Scheme which “currently allows community groups, community councils or bonafide voluntary sports and play associations to apply for funding from the council for projects that have the aim of increasing the range of facilities, activities and opportunities within Ceredigion”.

As part of a wide-ranging list of cost-saving measures while setting the 2024-’25 county council budget, which saw an 11.1 per cent council tax rise, it was agreed that the council’s Community Grant Scheme budget could be reduced.

A report for Cabinet members said: “The Capital Grants budget will be reduced to £100,000. The council’s contribution to Revenue Grants of £26,000 is removed, which therefore reduces the available funding to £30,000 pa which is entirely funded from Ceredigion’s share of The Welsh Church Fund (WCF).

“It is essential that the limited funding now available is used to maximum effect, this includes taking a Ceredigion-wide high-level view of which aspects are important to support.”

The report included item in the budget that are ‘policy’ grants which are awarded to Papur Bro, Eisteddfodau, agricultural shows, festivals and individuals representing Wales or Great Britain.

“During the budget process for 2024/25 the council worked closely with town and community councils to explore ways of transferring responsibility from Ceredigion County Council for some assets and services.

“Indeed, some of the town and community councils increased the level of the precept they charged to accommodate ‘local’ services that Ceredigion County Council may not be in a position to provide in the future.

“Given this approach it is recommended that town and community councils would no longer be eligible to apply for either revenue or capital community grants as they could consider increasing their precepts to deliver projects in their community. This would also allow other organisations more of an opportunity to be successful with community grant applications moving forward.”

The council’s own Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee had agreed to back changes to the grant scheme, which will see reductions in the level of grants available, other than removing town and community councils.

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Cabinet members backed the changes despite concerns raised by some councillors at the removal of town and community councils.

Aberaeron county councillor Elizabeth Evans, who had raised her concerns at the loss to town and community councils at the meeting, expressed her disappointment afterwards.

Aberaeron and Aberarth councillor Elizabeth Evans (Pic: Ceredigion County Council)

“Aberaeron for instance is a service centre for the surrounding area, and also a tourist town, and we very much welcome all local visitors from surrounding areas and tourists, of course we do.

“Yet the small population of Aberaeron must fund a great deal now, items which used to be funded by Ceredigion Council.

“Yes, there are many external grants available, which the town council have been successful in obtaining. However, sometimes we have needed to apply for a Ceredigion Community grant for a piece of play equipment for instance. What a shame they feel they should no longer support us. I hope in time, they will reconsider this.”

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