The Council supports communities to take an active role in their local areas, and is encouraging groups to take advantage of their share of £125,000 from the Community Empowerment Fund this financial year.
Last year, groups claimed more than £69,000 to carry out improvements to buildings and land which would help local people make better use of community assets.
Cllr Helen Lewis, Spokesperson for Partnership and Third Sector said: “We know that some of the groups who applied in previous financial years used the grant for phase one of a wider improvement programme, and these groups are eligible to apply in this financial year. We are also hoping groups who have not benefited before will grasp this opportunity to make small improvements which will make a big difference to the community activity these groups promote."
The funding is for capital expenditure on permanent improvements to buildings and land. Successful applications include projects such as new fencing, installing accessible toilets, replacing flat roofs, re-wiring and replacement windows. These improvements have helped groups expand their options for income generation as well as provision of activities.
Applications are considered on a rolling basis and a decision on complete applications is usually made within four weeks.
To receive a grant, applicant organisations must be constituted and not-for-profit. They must own or have a long-term lease on the building or land in question.
Projects should assist in meeting the ambitions set out in the Local Outcomes Improvement Plan and/or contribute to the regeneration of a community.
Groups can apply for 80% of the total project cost up to a maximum of £10,000 including any VAT. More information about the criteria is available on the Council’s website.
The funding forms part of the Council’s wider encouragement of community empowerment, which offers huge potential for community regeneration and the sustainability of facilities and services. The Council agreed as part of this year’s budget that facilities at Dollar Civic Centre, Dumyat Centre, Clackmannan CAP, Tullibody Civic Centre and Cochrane Hall should be promoted for potential community asset transfer. There has already been a good deal of interest, with expressions of interest received for every facility.
Cllr Lewis continued: “We recognise that Community Asset Transfer can be hugely rewarding but that it is not without challenge and communities need time to develop capacity. We also recognise that every facility and each community is unique; therefore we are open to exploring a range of options, understanding that a one size fits all approach is unlikely to succeed.
“Whilst a number of facilities will no longer be operated by the Council from October, we want to give communities every chance to make a go of the community asset transfer opportunities that exist. I’d encourage groups to continue to engage with council officers and partners to discuss options and to develop business cases. We are very much open to discussion on transitional arrangements. This may include interim arrangements such as ‘try before you buy’ management agreements or leases if this would ultimately enable a successful community asset transfer.”
As part of this ongoing dialogue, a series of engagement meetings is to be organised over the coming weeks, where further Information will be provided on assistance and support available.