Community makes plea to organise Lotto grant

Swindon Advertiser: Coun Cindy Matthews, pictured in Toothill, where she wants the community to work together to find ways of spending its £1m Coun Cindy Matthews, pictured in Toothill, where she wants the community to work together to find ways of spending its £1m

RESIDENTS of Toothill have urged people with organisational and administration skills to put themselves forward for election to the £1m lottery grant committee.

Nominations for an election to a newly-formed 11-member Partner-ship Group opened yesterday as the Adver revealed that division within the steering group and apathy had stalled the bid to spend the Big Lottery Fund’s £1m grant.

The area, having been identified as one of 150 places across the UK to benefit from funding, has only seen a handful of events staged and around £30,000 spent on consultations, festivals and community engagement.

But a resident, who has been on the Toothill Big Local steering committee since it began in 2010 but asked not to be identified, has defended the process and urged more people to come forward.

She said: “We all get frustrated at times but I would not say it’s a mess. We are doing things slowly and not moving forwards as quickly as some people would like but the Big Local have not put a time-limit on it.

“The money has to be spent over 10 years and there’s an old saying ‘slowly, slowly catchy monkey’. Why rush it? The money is still going to be there.

“Also Kareen Boyd has come in and been like a breath of fresh air – I don’t think there is any political agenda at all.

“I would like to see a big number of people come forward for the elections – the more the better.

“We need people with administration skills, banking skills, skills at chairing meetings. We could do with architects and solicitors volunteering too.

“We want it to be mainly resident-led but if people from outside Toothill have the skills we need then we are open to them as well.”

Councillor Cindy Matthews (Lab, Lydiard and Freshbrook), who covers part of the area, echoed the plea for skilled individuals.

She said: “I would urge people in Toothill to get involved as well as those with a mix of skills from elsewhere.”

Nominations for election are open to anyone, with the Partnership Group required to consist of at least 51 per cent of Toothill residents. If there are more than 11 candidates then a vote will take place between February 26 and March 5.

For more information and to print off nomination forms visit www.toothillbiglocal.co.uk or email Swindon Council West Localities lead Paula Harrison at pharrison@swindon.gov.uk.

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