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£17,000 cut from town council grants budget

PUBLISHED: 17:24 21 November 2018 | UPDATED: 17:24 21 November 2018

King's House in King Street, Thetford. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

King's House in King Street, Thetford. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

Community groups will no longer be able to access more than £17,000 of grant money in a Norfolk town due to a range of money-saving measures.

It comes as the medium grant scheme at Thetford Town Council, which offered individual grants of up to £2,000 from a total pot of £20,000, was scrapped.

The council said the decision will free up officer time to help organisations in need of funding write bids for grants.

The small grant scheme will be nearly doubled in size from next year, from a pot of £3,500 to £6,000, but can only offer grants of up to £300 to community groups and events.

The total saving from cancelling the medium grant scheme will be £17,500, despite the draft budget agreed at this week’s finance committee indicating a surplus for the next two financial years.

The decision to cut grant funding was voted through prior to the draft of the budget at October’s full council meeting.

Terry Jermy, town councillor for the Burrell ward, said the move will stop local groups from spending council money where it most keenly needed.

He said: “I think considering all the money the council spends, we should be able to afford the small and medium grants because groups are able to spend that money better than the council can.

“In addition, if your local council are backing you as a group or organisation, that is a good barometer when you go to other funders because often they think there should be a local contribution.”

A spokesman for Thetford Town Council said: “It was discussed that council consider, rather than give direct medium grants, that the council commits officer time to help organisations to fund raise.

“Councillors discussed the benefits of this model and noted that this would build fundraising skills and the long-term sustainability of organisations in the town.

“It was generally felt that this approach could potentially bring more external funding into Thetford.”

In addition, more than £20,000 of savings could be made if the last of its staff move offices.

Five of Thetford Town Council’s staff are due to leave King’s House, in King Street, to the Carnegie Room in Cage Lane, with the main council chamber, mayor’s parlour, being retained by the council in the move.

The move, according to the draft budget, will save £12,600 in rent payments, £4,700 in charges, and £5,916 in business rates.

Mark Robinson, town councillor for the Boudica ward, said: “I look forward to the proposed move being discussed at full council, I wouldn’t want to predetermine but on the surface this seems to present benefits both practical and financial.”

The move will be discussed at the full council meeting on November 27.

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