Groups have lost out on VAT windfall

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COMMUNITY groups have lost their chance to benefit from a surprise VAT windfall because councillors didn’t nominate them for a share of the cash.

South Kesteven District Council received £825,325 from a one-off VAT refund early last year and used nearly half of the money - £425,000 - to establish a community fund.

Councillors were asked to put forward groups they thought were worthy of a share of the cash.

But a Freedom of Information request by Ashley Baxter, a Market Deeping town councillor and a Deeping St James parish councillor, revealed that only £39,420 has been used to help community projects.

It also found that only six district councillors put forward projects.

Coun Baxter, who is a member of the South Lincolnshire Green Party said: “In June last year South Kesteven District Council were parading this windfall as an antidote to the national Tory cuts and speculating that the money could be used to promote all manner of projects to promote community and economy.

“Now it transpires that our district councillors were either too lazy, too unimaginative or too mean to propose projects which could have helped residents locally.”

A Deeping St James playscheme received £24,420, from two separate bids. A community allotment also received £15,000.

But two bids totalling £9,000 in the Grantham area were turned down because they did not meet the criteria. They were funded from another budget.

A district council spokesman said all bids received were considered. He confirmed the figures were correct.

He said: “Money left unallocated has been transferred to the council’s general fund and will be used throughout the district supporting the council’s priorities to develop the economy, keep our district clean, promote arts and leisure and support housing.

“We believe this is an excellent use of the money as these priorities will benefit everyone in the district.”

Some of the VAT windfall money was used to defer a proposal to increase the charges in the long and short-stay car parks in Stamford, following a Mercury campaign.