An Angus councillor has warned greater consideration should be given to which projects receive common good cash, fearing the “whittling” away of funds may lead to problems if urgent repairs are required on common good properties.
Alex King, SNP member for Arbroath West and Letham, spoke out as members of the council’s policy and resources committee agreed an application for £9,324.27 to provide signage, an automatic door, shelving and fittings at the Learning Tree Partnership.
The money will come out of the Arbroath Common Good Fund.
Councillor King warned, if grants continue to be given out to projects not on the common good, there could be problems further down the line.
He said: “If we keep whittling away at the funds, then if money is needed for projects on the common good, like the steeple, there will not be enough money to meet the work.
“We should think very carefully.”
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Forfar and District SNP councillor Lynne Devine also questioned the merits of granting the award to the group stating: “I visited the Learning Tree Partnership a long time ago but I’m not sure what they do.
“Is this really something which is for the common good?”
Defending the project, Lois Speed, independent member for Arbroath East and Lunan, said it reached out to over 70 service users to help them learn, gain knowledge and go on to gain qualifications, including SVQ certificates.
She said: “It works with mostly marginalised groups and individuals and is quite an inclusive organisation.”
The meeting heard the application had been agreed by four ward members, and not agreed by three, so it was approved.
Bill Duff, SNP member for Montrose and District, concurred with councillor King as £7,700 was handed out from the Montrose Common Good Fund.
All four ward members agreed to a grant of £200 towards the £750 cost of a silhouette of a soldier in time for Remembrance Day, whilst three of the four agreed to grant up to £7,500 (subject to tenders) for repairs to steps at Bridge Street, which are on common good land.
He said: “I am concerned for common good funds.
“We have to be very careful not to whittle it away by spending on small projects.
“I am a democrat and accept the three to one vote, but I am concerned.”
A report by Ian Cochrane, head of infrastructure at the council, noted the balances for the Arbroath and Montrose common good funds on April 1 2018 were £606,475 and £370,295 respectively.