Conservatives at South Kesteven District Council have ‘seen the light’ regarding budgets for Ward Members to distribute to projects within their wards. The U-turn means that all councillors will have the opportunity to allocate up to £1,000 to local good causes during the 12-months leading up to the next District Council elections. Details of the scheme have been published by the Stamford Mercury.
Many of these Councillors are the very same Tories who voted, en bloc, against an almost identical scheme which was proposed by an Independent Councillor four years ago.
Here is an excerpt from the minutes of the SKDC Budget meeting of 3rd March, 2014.
This time round the scheme has been recommended by the Communities Overview and Scrutiny Group which discussed the findings of a ‘Members Working Group’ on the issue. The ‘Working Group’ was a private meeting, not publicised beyond the committee and was attended by only one councillor who, coincidentally, was one of the Tories who had voted against the scheme four years earlier.
Personally, I opposed the decision to introduce the ward members’ budget on more than one occasion. I think it looks bad to introduce it in the year before an election and in times of austerity. There is also plenty of scope for confusion among the press and members of the public concerning who is being ‘generous’ as shown in an article relating to a similar scheme administered by South Holland District Council.
However, now that the decision has been made I will certainly do my best to repatriate ‘my share’ to good causes in the Deepings.