Row over Desborough Council’s budget management continues

Money
Money

The tension between a group of residents and Desborough Town Council has increased after a row over the authority’s grant scheme.

A Freedom of Information request by town resident Matthew Peleszok revealed that more than £7,000 of town taxpayers’ cash in the Community Grant Scheme had not been awarded over the space of two years.

This year’s budget has allocated another £25,000 of council tax the scheme, leaving Mr Peleszok questioning the council’s processes and where the £7,000 had gone.

In response, Desborough Town Council chairman Allan Matthews said it had gone into reserves and that not enough groups had applied for funds.

Mr Peleszok said: “As a resident of Desborough I have actively questioned the financial processes the council have in place and the poor budget management following on from the 2016/17 precept.

“Myself and other community groups feels let down that the local organisations will not be able to access the full entitlement of funding that the local taxpayer has paid into.

“It is a pity that the council seem reluctant to engage with residents, and have now taken up a process of blocking out questions that do not meet the aims of the current council.

“I will continue to ask these questions to the council.

“As a town we need to pull together to demand greater representation and follow on from the 2016 parish poll where 95 per cent of Desborough voters voted no confidence in the council.”

Mr Matthews said: “With previous years we believed £25,000 [in precept money for the grant scheme] was the right sum.

“If it is not spent we cannot give it back.

“We raised the money for the good of the people of Desborough.

“It’s not lost and it is still there for Desborough, it’s in reserves.”

A Desborough Town Council spokesman said it had received many heart-warming reports of how the money had helped local groups.

They said: “Desborough Town Council are very proud to be in the third year of its ‘Community Grant Scheme’ which awards funds to local groups and organisations in Desborough.

“We have received many heart-warming reports of how the funds have made such a difference to many community groups over the past two years.

“Groups such as the Desborough Youth Centre, Desborough Scouts, Desborough Brownies & Guides, Marlow House (day centre for the elderly), many clubs providing sports for the young, Desborough Men’s Shed (providing a meeting place & activities) and Desborough in Bloom who plant hanging baskets, tubs, and highway verges in Desborough have all benefited from the scheme.

“The council look forward to continuing to support such groups and organisations who make such a difference and wish to thank them all for their hard work.

“Desborough Town Council invite local organisations from Desborough to get in touch and apply for funding by visiting the Desborough Town Council website where the grant scheme information and application forms are located.”

The disagreement is the latest in a series of arguments involving Desborough residents and their town council.

In March last year the council increased its council tax precept portion by 400 per cent.

A parish poll followed where 95 per cent of voters said they had no confidence in the council.

Some residents then set up their own political party, Independents for Desborough, with the aim of standing in the town council elections in 2019.