Westminster needs to make more money available to help preserve basics of village life
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014
It seems odd that every year we pay more tax, be it VAT, income or any of the other little surprises the chancellor can dream up, and yet the small organisations which really matter to people are living on crumbs.
Government spending is under all sorts of pressure, that is drummed into us daily. And the powers-that-be are all for trumpeting major schemes for new roads, new ships for the navy, planes for the RAF, grants for theatres, and education and health.
Yet in towns and villages across the land there are hundreds – thousands – of tiny organisations existing on peanuts and depending on charity and goodwill. Unfortunately, many give up the battle to carry on and fold.
The EDP's Community Chest, working alongside the Norfolk Community Foundation, gives grants to help some of these vital small organisations which are pressed for cash.
To give an illustration of this, a list of the latest grants from the Community Chest was published last week.
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And here's one that caught the eye and is indicative of the pressure small organisations are under.
Ashmanaugh and Beeston Preston Rooms Management Association has been given £100. It needs it to replace a faulty radiator. If it can't do this, presumably a village meeting facility would be freezing in winter.
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Now £100 is very little money. But to this organisation it means a lot and, thanks to EDP readers collecting tokens, it can have a new rad.
Here's another. Barney and Fulmodeston Cricket Club have been given cash to help them buy equipment so older people can take up the sport. The £150 is probably the difference between the scheme getting off the ground and it being stumped.
People are increasingly isolated from decision-makers. All of these small local projects matter more to people than big picture government, more so than Queen's speeches and Europe and Norfolk County Council and a regional mayor, but need small amounts of cash to keep their activities going.
Every village has these organisations, be they Keep Fit, Scouts... the list must be almost endless, and yet they are the rock of village life and matter a lot more to people than Whitehall's billion-pound projects.
Fundraisers will play their part but the generosity of ordinary people can become very stretched with the demands of modern living.
Would it not be an idea for Westminster to make more money available through organisations like the Norfolk Community Foundation to help preserve the basics of village life? Every parish and city in the land has these small bodies which give people a better quality of life.
We are more concerned that the verges are cut in summer, that roads don't flood in winter, that our local hall is warm and safe, than about a new motorway in the 'northern powerhouse'.
It would cost government little and yet mean so much. And, bellow this as loudly as the early morning blackbird, there might just be votes in it...