Posted: 16.09.20 at 09:23 by Tom Avery
After much discussion, councillors agreed to contribute £140 towards a Gawsworth project due to over a quarter of the group’s current members living in the Congleton area.
The 1st Gawsworth Girls Brigade applied for a £250 grant, which would allow them to provide individual packs to each member to enable social distancing on return to physical group attendance.
The packs, which would include stationery and resources would allow members to take part in craft/learning activities whilst reducing the risk of cross contamination.
Councillors discussed the grant application at Thursday’s Congleton Town Council meeting of Finance and Policy Committee.
The town council’s Responsible Financial Officer, Jackie Potts, queried with the applicant Joanne Reeves, why the group had applied for grant funding from Congleton Town Council rather than Gawsworth Parish Council.
The brigade group advised that only one of their members lived in Gawsworth, but seven of the 25 members lived in Buglawton, which meant that around 28% of the group lived in the Congleton area.
Cllr Jean Parry said: “Although there are some children that come from Congleton, I don’t feel that this is something that is basically a Congleton item and I think they should make an application to Macclesfield, which is much more suitable.
“We definitely have girl guides in Congleton, they have their meetings in Congleton because we made several grants for them to go to the jamboree, so I’m afraid in this instance I would recommend rejection.”
Cllr Paul Duffy echoed Cllr Parry’s comments: “I’m really sorry because the person who has written this application is here, so it’s quite embarrassing. However, Gawsworth has its own parish council and it is a fairly affluent area similar to Congleton.
“I’m afraid I’m going to do a bit of a Donald Trump and do Congleton first on this one, purely because we have girl guide operations in Congleton and I really think we have to support the local ones first before we can start dishing out money to other areas.”
Cllr George Hayes said: “Much as I understand the points my colleagues have made; I think that there is a clear demonstrable case that Congletonians use this girls brigade club and therefore I find myself in conflict with the proposal that has been put forward.
“I believe this is something we ought to be supporting because as much as there are probably one if not two bordering parish councils between Congleton and Gawsworth, I think we all have to recognise that parishes and their councils are significantly smaller than that of this council, they don’t have the disposable budget income to be able to support these events and I would hate that to be to the detriment of such a good initiative.”
Cllr Sally Ann Holland asked the applicant whether they had applied for grant funding via Macclesfield Town Council and Cheshire East Council.
Applicant Joanne Reeves told the committee that the group had applied to Macclesfield for £250 but had not yet applied to Cheshire East.
Cllr Holland added: “If we do have some members that come from Congleton, there is an overlap because there isn’t a girls brigade in Congleton and the girls brigade is a fantastic organisation a little bit different from the guides.
“I would be in favour of accepting this and in these Covid-19 times anything we can do for the young people of Congleton, if they attend, it is something we need to support.”
Cllr Parry was worried that if the town council approved the grant, it would set a precedent for other organisations outside Congleton to come and apply for funds due to it “being a good place to go to for a grant”.
Cllr Parry added: “I still believe we are correct in concentrating on Congleton and although there are a few from Congleton, the percentage is fairly low and isn’t anywhere near say 50%, which I would find much more reasonable to consider.”
Joanne Reeves told councillors that if grant funding were not forthcoming, the group would ask children’s parents to make contributions towards the project.
Cllr David Brown suggested that with 28% of the group’s members being from Congleton, the town council should contribute £140 to the overall cost of the £500 project.
Cllr Rob Moreton, who labelled the group as a “fantastic cause” supported Cllr Brown’s amended proposal.
Cllr Russell Chadwick said: “One year there might be 28% of the members from Congleton then another year there might be 65 to 70%, we are losing the edge on this, this is about supporting young people just on the edge of our town and I would propose we offer them the £250.
“It’s looking after young people in this time when we have got Covid-19 and whether it is within a spitting distance of the town or not, I think there’s 28% of the group from Congleton. Next year there might be more or less, but actually it is within our power to give them £250.
“I would support giving them all the money irrespective of the percentage, were losing perspective on life if we start thinking ‘oh there not within our jurisdiction’ it’s helping young people and that’s what I would suggest we support.”
Cllr Brown stated that if there was a seconder for Cllr Chadwick’s proposal, he would withdraw his motion. This was supported by Cllr Hayes.
The town council first voted on Cllr Parry’s proposal to reject the application, which did not receive enough support to be carried.
Due to Cllr Brown’s proposal being withdrawn, councillors then voted on Cllr Chadwick’s motion to approve 1st Gawsworth Girls Brigade’s grant request for £250.
Five councillors voted in favour, five councillors voted against, which meant Cllr Robert Douglas, chair of the Finance and Policy Committee, had the casting vote on the proposal.
Cllr Douglas rejected Cllr Chadwick’s motion and instead proposed that the town council contributed 28% towards the £500 project, which would be £140.
Cllr Brown seconded that proposal and eight councillors voted in favour with two councillors voting against, which meant the amended grant application was passed.