05 October 2010

As the London 2012 Olympics moves ever closer, sport lovers in the county have received a boost thanks to an innovative scheme pioneered by Northamptonshire County Council.

The Empowering Councillors and Communities project gives individual councillors direct powers of investment in their ward and the discretion to decide which local projects, groups or facilities will benefit most from their cash.

An annual report into the scheme shows that 16 per cent of schemes funded between February 2009 and March 2010 benefitted sports and leisure activities, up from 10 per cent the previous year.

Some of the sporting initiatives which were awarded grants include £2,500 for a new boxing ring at Far Cotton Boxing Club; £1,845 for a cricket pitch cover at Towcestrians Cricket Club; and £759 for the A5 Rangers Cycling Club.

By investing in sporting activities many other areas benefit such as health, tackling antisocial behaviour, improving open green spaces and providing opportunities for bringing the community together.

In total £443,590.45 was awarded to 334 projects with community schemes, sports clubs and village halls just some of a number of areas which benefitted directly from the investment.

Cllr Joan Kirkbride, the county council’s deputy leader said: “The Empowering Councillors and Communities Scheme is at the heart of our vision for developing the role of local councillors as community champions.

“It is encouraging to see that the revenue money especially is being spent in a variety of areas and a broad cross-section of society is benefiting directly from this money.

“The scheme enhances the role of all councillors as front-line influencers in the work of the council, while at the same time tackling some of the smaller-scale issues that can make the biggest difference to people’s lives.”

The initiative provides councillors a sum of money to spend in their own divisions. All councillors were given training on how to go about consulting with local people to find out views on how they should spend their allocation in order to benefit their communities the most.