West Berkshire Council and Greenham Trust have both allocated £200,000 of funding to establish a new £400,000 Community Solutions Fund which is now available to Parish and Town Councils and local community groups.
The primary objective of the Fund is to provide start-up funding to help community based projects become established following West Berkshire Council having to withdraw or reduce services.
Grants will be up to a maximum of £12,000 although in exceptional cases this amount might be exceeded. There is also a small bids category for grants ranging from £500 to £1,000.
The Fund will support creativity and innovation in West Berkshire communities and applications should typically fall within one of the following categories:
• Service delegation – taking on services, which could include grass cutting or road sign cleaning, from West Berkshire Council and providing these services with volunteers.
• Community asset transfers – transfer of buildings, parks and other Council-owned assets such as libraries or playgrounds
• Responding to community need by helping develop local services. This could include providing a volunteer driving scheme for the elderly or initiatives that strengthen a community’s response to severe or adverse weather events.
The organisations that can apply to the Fund include Parish or Town Councils and voluntary or community groups.
Councillor Marcus Franks, West Berkshire Council’s Executive Member for Community Resilience, said: “From speaking to local people we know that often they want to do more for their community but lack the funds to get going. We want to help cover these start-up costs. I hope that local groups will apply to the fund so that we get this money out into our communities.
“The fund is part of a new, broader approach by the Council to work with local communities wanting to do more for themselves. Our new approach will allow those councils to provide an enhanced service for local people and complement the work we already do. We know people take pride in where they live and these new services will help those who want more done in their town or village than the district council can afford to do.”
Chris Boulton CEO of Greenham Trust commented “This new and innovative source of funding should really help local communities who wish to continue to provide important services that unfortunately can no longer be supported by the Council in the current economic climate.”
To apply for an award from the Fund applicants should use the West Berkshire Council Parish portal website.