Furious row over grants funding erupts as council blocks £10,000 fund
PUBLISHED: 11:29 28 November 2018
A row erupted at a meeting after councillors, including the mayor of Thetford, voted to block proposals to reintroduce £10,000 in grant funding.
At Thetford Town Council’s full council meeting on Tuesday, November 27, an amendment was proposed by councillor Terry Jermy to create a £10,000 pot of grant funding during the debate on the council’s draft budget for 2019/20.
The move came after the council voted to scrap its £20,000 medium grants scheme at October’s full council meeting following a recommendation from the council’s Amenities, Land and Properties (ALP) committee.
However, after a heated debate, the amendment was voted down, meaning plans for a £17,500 cut in grant funding will continue.
Mr Jermy argued the cutting of the grant fund would hurt voluntary groups in the town, and said the council’s £12,183 surplus in the financial year 2019/20 showed the council could afford a new pot of grant funding.
He said: “I was speaking to a number of different funding groups such as Power to Change. They require 25pc matched funding from local authorities or fundraising. It [receiving a grant] really is a barometer of success.
“I do think it is really sad. The small amount of money that we do give actually brings in an awful lot more.”
A debate about the process of amending of the budget then took place - with a frustrated back and forth between councillors, the clerk and the mayor about whether the budget could be amended at all.
Among those expressing their anger was councillor Mark Robinson who, when questioning the grants decision made at ALP, said: “I sent an email on this exact question, I sent a bloody email!”
Jane James, finance committee chair, hit back at the move to reinstate the grant funding.
She said: “Should you make that decision that would result in a deficit over the forecasted three years and I don’t think that is particularly fair to the people of Thetford.
“People are struggling and these are people who are paying their taxes and we need to be mindful that what we do has impact.”
After the amendment was voted down, the draft budget eventually passed with no amendments, with nine for, four against, and one abstention with the town council precept frozen at current levels for tax payers.