Inquiry call over £1.5 million funding for Leeds volunteers

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An inquiry has been called for into a £1.5m scheme launched to help some of Leeds’s most deprived areas.

Under the government-funded Community First initiative, 15 wards across the city have been awarded cash to support volunteer-led projects.

Community panels have been set up in each of the areas to help community groups bid for grants.

But Coun Stewart Golton, the council’s Liberal Democrat group leader, wants greater transparency and accountability over how the money is spent.

He said: “The sums of money involved are potentially significant for a lot of cash-strapped groups that work within our poorer communities.

“Although well intentioned the fact that this money has not been allocated through the local authority means that there are no obvious checks and balances in place to ensure that this public money is being spent properly, on time, and to the greatest effect.

“Community First also involves the recruitment of community organisers in these areas, whose role would include helping local communities access the funds. This initiative has been in place for nearly a year and not one organiser is on the ground yet.”

Coun Golton has called on the council to hold a scrutiny investigation into the scheme.

Nationally, £30m has been made available to Community First and Coun Golton argues the initiative needs reassessing at a national and local level.

He said: “I am writing to Stuart Andrew MP to ask that he investigates these schemes in his new role as parliamentary private secretary to minister for the Cabinet Office.”

Allocations for Leeds wards are: Hyde Park and Woodhouse £33,910; Morley South £33,910; Pudsey £67,820; Chapel Allerton £67,820; Kirkstall £67,820; Ardsley and Robin Hood £50,865; Bramley and Stanningley £84,775; Farnley and Wortley £84,775; Killingbeck and Seacroft £101,730; Middleton Park £118,685; Gipton and Harehills £135,640; Beeston and Holbeck £152,595; Armley £152,595; Burmantofts and Richmond Hill £203,460 and City and Hunslet £237,370.

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