Events at risk if Area Committee budget is axed

Dewsbury councillor Masood Ahmed.'Labour, Dewsbury South.'d308b229
Dewsbury councillor Masood Ahmed.'Labour, Dewsbury South.'d308b229

Dewsbury’s area committee will become a “talking shop” if plans to scrap its budget go ahead, a councillor has said.

It would be left with no cash to fund community events such as Dewsbury’s Civic Ball, the schools Technology Tournament or the Christmas lights. Some events would be unable to go ahead without the funds they receive.

The plans – a cut of £291,000 to zero for all the borough’s area committees – are part of Kirklees Council’s 2014/2015 proposals. They will go out to public consultation on Monday after the Cabinet backed them this week.

Coun Paul Kane (Lab, Dews East), an area committee member, said: “Access to small amounts of funds for smaller community groups is absolutely paramount. I will be fighting to ensure that we maintain some funds that go to area committee.

“It’s the lifeblood of our smaller communities. The Christmas lights, the Civic Dinner, these could go all together.

“It took a long time to get the area committees in place and it would be a shallow move to scrap them.”

Committee chairman Masood Ahmed (Lab, Dews South) said: “I would be really sad to see this go, it’s made such a big difference. I know projects that rely on area committee funding to be sustainable.”

Dewsbury Chamber of Trade president Trish Makepeace said: “It’s appalling – I can’t believe it. What would be the point of it with no money?”

The area committee has helped to fund various projects with the Chamber, as well as working with the Dewsbury Rotary Club, where Mrs Makepeace is also a member.

She said the annual schools Technology Tournament, which encourages young people in the district to get into engineering, would be unable to ahead without area committee cash.

She also said the proposals would eat into the funds Dewsbury’s Civic Ball gives to charity as the area committee help fund the hire of the town hall.

Mrs Makepeace added: “A lot of the projects are run by volunteers and the only thing that keeps them motivated is knowing they have that little bit of help.

“I hope this is kicked into the long grass.”