Councillors slow to spend cash for special projects in their areasBy Julie Spencer
January 25, 2013
Councillors have been slow to spend cash earmarked for special projects in their wards.
Almost half a million pounds was earmarked for the scheme in Bracknell Forest Council’s budget for 2009/10 with each councillor getting £10,000.
But by Christmas 2012, £83,728 was still unspent, prompting Councillor Mary Temperton to question if Bracknell Forest council tax payers knew the money was available.
At a meeting of the full council last night, Cllr Temperton submitted a question asking how the £420,000 scheme could be better publicised.
The cash is given to each ward councillor to spend to benefit residents, but current rules state purchases must not require further council funding or maintenance.
In Great Hollands, councillors pooled their cash to buy a minibus, give grants to schools, pay for a roofed area behind the community centre so the Mother and Toddler group can play outside in bad weather and brought an outdoor projector which can be hired out.
Speaking before the meeting, Cllr Temperton said: “This is rate payer’s money and rather than it sitting accruing no interest they should know it is available to spend.
“When I go along to the Mother and Toddlers and we are outside I like to think what a good thing we spent our money on.”
Wards where most of the money has been spent include Old Bracknell, Priestwood and Garth, Bullbrook, Harmans Water, Owlsmoor and Hanworth.
In Warfield Harvest Ride ward none of the three councillors have spent any of the £30,000 cash and the three councillors in neighbouring Binfield and Warfield have spent less than a third of their allocated cash with more than £20,000 still up for grabs.
Two members of Bracknell Forest Council’s executive Cllr Paul Bettison and Cllr Dale Birch still have more than £10,000 to spend in Little Sandhurst and Wellington while the College Town ward has benefited from a little over £25,000 spent between two councillors and Central Sandhurst have received a spend of £25,700.
Three Crown Wood councillors have around £9,000 left in the pot and Ascot ward councillors have spent less than half of their allocated cash.
Cllr Temperton said she would like to know if the rules for next year’s scheme could differ, with the cash being spent on employing people.
She said: “In the past it had to be a one-off spend with no maintenance but perhaps it could be spent on hiring a playleader or employing someone to run a youth club.”
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