Greenwich Council’s cabinet is set to back a proposal to give local councillors small budgets for improvements and projects in their areas.
Each of Greenwich’s 17 wards will be allocated £30,000 next month, which will go on projects that will have “a positive impact” on the area.
The areas of SE7 outside Charlton ward will be covered by budgets for their own wards: Peninsula, Kidbrooke with Hornfair and Woolwich Riverside. The proposal goes to Greenwich Council’s cabinet next Wednesday.
Lewisham Council has run a ward budget scheme for some years now, although this has been largely decided by regular public meetings rather than directly by councillors. In Lewisham, each local assembly gets £12,500 each year, with councillors deciding on a further £2,500.
Under Greenwich’s scheme, the £30,000 is a one-off and lasts until the end of the current administration in 2018, although effectively the cash will need to be spent by autumn 2017 to avoid clashing with elections. (Separately, the council is also edging towards some kind of watered-down assembly system, according to a report to be presented to councillors tonight.)
According to the council, schemes that could be funded under the ward budgets plan include:
• Supporting a local scout group for a specific activity
• Repairs or refurbishment of community facilities
• Purchase of street signs or street furniture
• Renovating a community landmark
• Toys or equipment for a play group or nursery
• Older people’s coach outing
• A new park bench or memorial or play equipment
• Specialist books or equipment for schools
• Supporting a community event, eg, a fete
• Community Safety projects
“Ward budgets should be used for proposals where it can be demonstrated that residents from within the ward or wards can participate in and will benefit from that proposal,” the council says. The money can used for a variety of different projects – it doesn’t need to be spent in one chunk. (Read the full document here.)
One thing that is apparent is that the money could end up going on basic things the council arguably should have funded anyway, either directly or through funding from developers – patching up grotty street furniture, for example, rather than signs explaining the history of the area (as you’ll see in Lewisham’s Lee Green ward).
So what would you spend the money on? Remember, this is about improving the community, not your house price. Could this go towards cleaning up and doing something with the summer house? Or towards smartening up the area from the station up Charlton Church Lane? Bringing extra sports or play equipment to parks? Or is there a community project that could do with a hand?