Council warned off grants row

COUNCILLORS worried over whether organisations in Felixstowe will receive grant aid so readily in future claim they were told to "mind their own business".

COUNCILLORS worried over whether organisations in Felixstowe will receive grant aid so readily in future claim they were told to "mind their own business".

Town councillors have been left fuming after a letter from Suffolk Coastal said they would not be consulted on changes to policy governing how grants would be distributed from now on.

The district council said in future it will put "greater emphasis" on applications for aid which had already received cash from town and parish councils.

But Felixstowe councillors fear this will lead to many groups at the resort missing out as the town has dozens of organisations and would not be able to support them all.

The town council gives around £15,000 of its £270,000 budget in grants, as well as taking part in many partnership projects for sport and leisure, play areas, and enhancement of the seaside town.

Former mayor Malcolm Minns said as an urban area Felixstowe had many more organisations than a rural area with a few to help.

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"This has provoked me and made me quite cross - the letter in effect says mind your own business," he said.

"I take exception to that. It is a matter of legitimate concern to this council. We made one or two considered comments and then we receive this in reply. It makes me quite ashamed to be a district councillor."

Councillor Mike Deacon described the letter as "offensive", while councillor Andy Smith said it smacked of a "definite trend" at the district council to take money away from urban areas and use it in rural locations.

Councillor Doreen Savage, a member of the district council's grant-giving committee, said: "I have to fight Felixstowe's corner all the time and it is getting harder and harder - they seem to think we have got all the money in the world and should just get on with it."

The letter from Suffolk Coastal said the operation of its grants scheme was its own business and it would not be seeking views on it.

"The aim of the review is to ensure that the capital grant scheme is seen by applicants as not always being the primary source of grant aid and that they should be prepared to look elsewhere for possible funders," it said.

"Capital grant aid should be seen as 'seed money'. The applicant will get favourable recognition where they can demonstrate that they are pursuing financial support from other external sources and where they can demonstrate fundraising within the community.

"While Felixstowe Town Council may have a larger number of potential applicants than any other town or parish within the district, it also has greater funds available."

If the town council did not support an application this would be a good indication of its importance.

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