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Denbighshire North Wales Politics

£26m for Denbighshire’s community projects needs to be ‘open and transparent’

A DECISION on how £25.6m is being allocated to community projects in Denbighshire is on the brink of being called in.

Last week Denbighshire County Council’s cabinet voted that a shortlisting process allocating the Government’s UK Prosperity Fund was fair and open.

Then the cabinet discussed the specific projects behind closed doors and decided where the money was to be allocated without publicly announcing which projects were successful and which bids failed.

But a worried councillor has – with four other members – signed a document to call-in the decision.

This means the matter would be returned for debate at scrutiny committee level before it could be taken forward.

Cllr Huw Hilditch-Roberts has instigated the call-in and claims it is unclear how Denbighshire’s UK Prosperity Fund board has reached its decision.

Cllr Hilditch-Roberts claims the council hasn’t involved every councillor in the final decision and is demanding the council explain exactly how individual projects have been scored.

“There is a board Denbighshire has set up, but unlike the Levelling-Up Fund, they haven’t taken the decision to every single member,” said Cllr Hilditch-Roberts.

“They (the cabinet) are saying they haven’t got the time. But if project A is awarded the money and Project B isn’t, I’m asking the question: why are they being awarded it and B not?

“They have said the board has decided, so I’ve asked what was the matrix or the way you awarded the money to one project over the other? And the answer I had is that it is an art not a science.”

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Cllr Hilditch-Roberts added: “An open and transparent process must be adhered to for the allocation of those funds.

“There is a lack of understanding of the application and shortlisting process. There is no evidence of a scoring matrix. There is not sufficient evidence on how projects have been awarded and approved and a lack of evidence aligning the process with the UK government guidelines.

“There’s also no evidence of a right of appeal for applicants or extra information gathering to support the applications and a lack of consultation with all members in the process.”

Denbighshire County Council said there is nothing to report at present, but the Local Democracy Reporting Service understands that the call-in is in the process of being formalised.