In my role as Shadow Portfolio holder for Grants I attended and spoke at the annual Woking Council Grants meeting last week.
Woking has a clear process for grants whereby local groups are invited to apply for funding by the end of August each year. Applications are made through the Window on Woking website. Applications are considered by the Council and representatives from voluntary groups and recommendations are made to the Executive.
My view doesn't hold much sway with the Conservative Executive but I am allowed to put the Lib Dem view on a number of applications.
Several applications stood out for me on Thursday.
I expressed my surprise that having refused to fund the Neighbourhood Advice Centre (which primarily served Maybury and Sheerwater) last year, giving the reason that CAB were doing work in the area, the Executive has now refused CAB funding for this work. I spoke in favour of CAB getting extra funding to cover the need in this area.
I was pleased that Outline Surrey received funding this year. Outline provides a telephone helpline and information and organises events for those who are Lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender. I have supported the charity's applications for the last three years. In 2010 no funding was given, in 2011 a small amount was allocated. This year Outline got their full application.
I spoke in favour of giving CORAM, a group offering life education to school children in the borough, funding for alcohol awareness work. The work of the group has already been much appreciated in local schools and I spoke based on the experience of my Lib Dem colleagues who are teachers. Listening to the statistics of the young people affected by alcohol I supported prevention rather than picking up the pieces. The portfolio holder did not seem keen to fund this part of the programme. Her view was that the drinks industry should pick up the bill. I agreed that if the Council agrees to adopt a late night levy this money could be used in future to fund such programmes but money was needed this year.