‘Challenging’ process for West Sussex County Council cash pot

The Base Skatepark in Bognor Regis received �24,000 from the Big Society Fund
The Base Skatepark in Bognor Regis received �24,000 from the Big Society Fund

DEMAND outstripped supply by more than a third- of-a-million pounds in the fourth year of a community initiatives fund.

Bids during 2014-2015 totalled £987,700 across West Sussex for the pot of £598,200 which was at the disposal of councillors under the Members’ Big Society Fund.

This is despite the budget, which supports small projects, having more than doubled since it launched in 2011.

Michael Brown, cabinet member for finance, described the awards process as ‘challenging’.

“For every one which gets the thumbs-up, they have to give the thumbs-down to two.”

He said: “Almost all reflect social will and social good – I wish there was enough money to fund all of them.”

Cllr Brown added this would be his aim – “I will try and get more money until the point we have it matching the demand.”

The performance and finance select committee’s annual review, held on April 16, listed skateparks, cricket clubs and memorial halls among the successful bidders.

Chichester district saw 16 bids placed, four were successful, four part-funded and eight declined.

Of these, seven bids came from the Selsey area which fell short of the ‘one in three’ average as five were turned down.

Arun fared better with four of the five securing funds, including The Base Skatepark, Bognor, which received the maximum £25,000.

Arundel’s Victoria Institute got two lots – £10,900 and £6,600.

Cllr Brown expressed concern Blake’s Cottage might ‘not be successful’.

“We gave them £10,000 but they are finding it very difficult to raise the rest.”

Sheena Lake, from community and economic development, said the fund was proving ‘very popular’ and echoed the big society’s belief that ‘money spent locally is money well spent’.

Mrs Lake said: “What you are getting is the commitment and the engagement of the people doing the work in the community.”