Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Congratulations - Mayor elect Cllr Alan Wales

I'm delighted to announce that, last night Cllr Alan Wales was overwhelmingly elected to be the next Mayor of Frodsham, with Cllr Fran Sutton as Deputy Mayor.

As a Council, in early 2012, we chose to split the roles of Chairman and Mayor of the Council and adopted a convention to offer the Mayorship to the councillor who had served the longest either since last being elected, or since last being Mayor.

The roles of being Chairman and Mayor are very different.  The Chairman manages the council's business and as needs be drives the council forward.  The Mayor is our 'first citizen' and our civic representative.  As needs be he deputises for the Chairman.

By convention a Mayor serves for 12 months and then a new Mayor takes over.

The Chairman is elected to the role of Chairman at our Annual meeting to serve for the ensuing 12 months. He or she can continue to serve in that role for as long as he or she commands the majority support of the councillors.


Frodsham Town Council and Frodsham Foundation

We had an interesting debate last night at Frodsham Town Council - and it all related to whether Frodsham Town Council should review an earlier decision it had made to pay the Foundation £11,000.  To understand what was going on we have to go back into history.

Now Frodsham Foundation was created by FTC with support from many partners including:

  • Cheshire West and Chester;
  • Cheshire and Warrington Social Enterprise Partnership LEP;
  • Princeway Medical Centre;
  • Northern Markets (they run the Thursday Market);
  • all our local Primary Schools and Helsby High School;
  • Frodsham Life;
  • Love Frodsham;
  • Community Association
  • Youth Association
to lead the Mary Portas pilot bid.  The bid document made it very clear that FTC was leading the bid only until the point when Frodsham Foundation had been incorporated - or in other words only up until the Foundation was created.

CWaC had decided that there would only be one bid to become a 'Portas Pilot' town from the Borough - and they decided to back Frodsham ahead of Chester, Northwich, Winsford, Neston, Ellesmere Port... They very much welcomed the innovation that the creation of the Foundation would bring.  CWaC's support was essential - as the 'Portas bid' required the local authority - in other words the Borough Council to be the accounting body.  An accounting body is the entity which is accountable to the government for ensuring that any money given to the winning team is spent and managed appropriately.

Question 1.1 in the bid form said:

1.1 Organisation name (in whose name the application is being made – if a partnership/consortium/BID, 
state the lead).
The answer given was:
FRODSHAM TOWN COUNCIL on behalf of FRODSHAM FOUNDATION – a charitable 
social enterprise company limited by guarantee (to be established) effectively being a consortium of local businesses, community and voluntary groups with Cheshire West and Chester Council (“CWaC”) and Frodsham Town Council (“FTC”).  The bid is led by FTC pending incorporation of Frodsham Foundation. 

Question 2.1 in the bid form said:
Who will lead the pilot? 
The answer given was:
Frodsham Town Council pending incorporation of Frodsham Foundation 
 
Question 2.2 asked: Who will be the Accountable Body (Please attach a confirmation letter)? 
The answer given was:
Cheshire West and Chester Council (letter attached) 

The bid document went through how the Foundation would seek to work if it was successful.  Unfortunately, as we know, Frodsham didn't win.  However with all the work done to create the Foundation FTC and CWaC decided to create the Foundation.  

FTC agreed to put in seed corn funding of £20,000 in the first two years of the Foundation.  CWaC agreed to put in £15,000 for each of the first two years too.  This CWaC resource was new additional money for Frodsham.

Frodsham Foundation was duly incorporated in September 2012.  

The following month the government announced that it would encourage those town teams that had not been successful in their Portas Bid to apply to become Town Partners - and it they were successful they would be awarded £10,000.  The Foundation applied to become a Town Partner, and then with the essential support of Graham Evans MP and CWaC - who had to act as the accounting body the money was duly received by the Foundation.  The Department of Communities and Local Government duly paid the Foundation £10,000 via CWaC.

On 15 March 2014 the Foundation held its first AGM.  The Annual Accounts were presented where all the income and expenditure were declared and published.  The accounts showed that the Foundation had an income of £53,272.

The income in the first year had come from FTC, CWaC, DCLG's £10,000 and profit on activities such as the Bee Festival.

In other words, leaving aside all the activity of the Foundation the investment put in by each of the partners was new additional money to spend and invest in Frodsham.  Something that had never happened before.

FTC paid the first promised £20,000 - but hasn't paid the second £20,000 (yet).  FTC did commission the Foundation to provide profile and marketing support for FTC and the wide community.  The commission was for £11,000 - close to the £10k of the Portas bid.  Some at FTC claimed not to have known that the Foundation had received additional funds from DCLG.  They suggested the DCLG £10k should have been paid to FTC.  The fact that this additional funding was announced on national television for all the 300+ Town Partners seems to have passed some councillors by.

Five FTC Councillors signed the following special resolution seeking to un-pick the £11k FTC commission:

'SPECIAL RESOLUTION
The undersigned councillors wish the following resolution to be put at the full council meeting of Frodsham Town Council on 28 April 2014
In view of recent information received Council should decide whether all or part of the funding agreed to be paid to Frodsham Foundation (minute 269) should be withheld

EXPLANATION
It is arguable that the £10,000 ‘Portas’ money should have been paid to FTC since it was this body which made the original bid.  More importantly, it appears that the majority of Town Councillors were unaware of this government funding when deciding on the request for a total of £11,000 from FTC made by Frodsham Foundation.  Some or all of the £11,000 might be better spent funding the 2014 Christmas festival which is facing a significant reduction in funding this year, or on some other major project with much local support in the current consultation.'

Councillors Bondi, Pennington, Shearn, Redhead and Pusey signed this resolution which led to last night's debate.

The debate was a surprisingly short affair in the sense that few participated in it.

With the exception of Cllr Bondi who proposed the motion there seemed little appetite in the other signatories to carry the debate forward.  So I took the initiative and took the council through the original Portas bid documents and the correspondence with DCLG all of which made it abundantly clear that only the Foundation was eligible to receive the money.  FTC never was eligible.  To my mind anyone reading the Portas bid papers should have seen this immediately.  Every councillor was given a copy of these papers 14 days in advance of the debate ... however I wonder how many had read them?  I then went on to explain how important the work of the Foundation was in supporting the town and wider community - such as the work with NEETs, business support etc.  FTC was having an influence for the first time in these vitally important areas.

As it was the special resolution was defeated.  Interestingly Cllr Pusey voted against the resolution he had signed and Cllr Redhead abstained.  Only three Councillors voted for the resolution they were:
Cllrs Bondi, Pennington and Oulton.  Cllr Shearn was absent from the meeting..

I'd like to think we all want the Foundation to be successful.  This year alone, in addition to receiving funds from CWaC the Foundation has received monies from:
  • University of Chester;
  • Royal Society of Arts Manufactures and Commerce 
and it is seeking funds from:
  • Heritage Lottery Fund;
  • EU
Everyone in Frodsham is eligible to be a member of it - if you subscribe to the Foundation's aims and will abide by its rules.  If you want to join the Foundation just go to frodshamfoundation.net.or contact Kate Dodgson via the Frodsham News facebook page. Everyone in Frodsham has been invited to join the foundation as part of the consultation.  It will be interesting to see how many do.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Young Entrepreneur Investment

The Community Grant giving has been a fantastic success.  It was also wonderful to hear from Ali Wheeler on the presentation evening how her Life through the lens project - which Lynn and I had funded with £1000 grant last year - had made a significant profits.  Best of all Ali is to invest the profits in other community projects.

One of the schemes that Ali, Lynn and I have been discussing since last Tuesday is to set up an investment fund for Young Entrepreneurs.

We're still working out the details - so if you have any ideas how we can improve upon what we're thinking - do please let us know.  But our thoughts so far are:

  • Ali reinvests £500 of the profits made which Lynn and I will match with £500 from each of our Member's Grants pot (total £1,500) into an Young Entrepreneurs Investment Fund;
  • We'll ask others, such as the Princes Trust to join with us to put in more funds and local businessmen and women to offer expertise, mentoring and support;
  • Local, young entrepreneurs (people 25 and under) who are looking for investment can apply for investment and mentoring support;
  • the fund will make small investments - seeking to get a young business off the ground - and look to have the investment repaid in say 24 months along with a modest share of the profits with a view to the investment fund growing and recycling the money.
We're thinking about running a Dragon's Den style event later this year - getting youngsters to make presentations about their ideas looking for investment... as well as explaining to us how they will make their business grow and make a return on our investment.

So that's the bare bones of the idea so far.  Please help us refine it.  And if you can offer help and support do let us know.


Frodsham Community Grants - the winners

Frodsham’s Community Groups in Action.

If anyone ever tells you there is nothing to do in Frodsham, try not to splutter! There is just so much community based activity and some of it was in action at our latest Grant Giving event. Thirty community groups put forward their projects for a share of our Members Grants.

Frodsham is the only ward in CWaC where we as the members let the community take the lead in awarding a significant part of the grant monies.  We are really delighted that this event has gone from strength to strength over recent years.  This year, we wanted to try and make it bigger and better, so we brought a bit of ‘Strictly’ to the event.  We gave applicants the chance to make a short video that was posted on the web before the event on the 22nd April. We also gave people the chance to vote online for the project they wanted to support. This has really got the community juices flowing and not only did we pack Main Street Community Church to the rafters, but 1576 online votes were posted too.

The buzz about this event has also attracted extra funding from Sport Cheshire and we can tell you about their awards too.  We’re also delighted that Ali Wheeler’s Life Through the Lens project that we supported last year is able to share some of their profits with us too.

So the results are in and here is how you voted both on the night and on-line.  We’ve allocated more money than we originally planned - reflecting the community’s wishes.
Share of £1000
On the Night Ranking
Online Ranking
Combined Ranking
Grant Award
Frodsham Cricket Club
1
2
1
£200
Frodsham Wheelers
5
1
2
£200
St Laurence Parish Church Heritage Group

3

4
3=
£150
Frodsham Methodist Church
2
5
3=
£150
Little Overton’s Pre School
5
3
4
£100
Cheshire Army Cadet Force
4
6
5
£100
North Cheshire Rail Users
4
7
6
£100

£500 Category
On the Night Ranking
Online Ranking
Combined Ranking

Grant
Award
Scouts Mersey Weaver District
2
1
1
£500
4th Frodsham Scouts
1
3
2
£500
Frodsham Silver Band
5
2
3=
£200
Frodsham and District History Society

3

4
3=
£200
Rotary Club
2
5
3=
£200
Frodsham Transition Initiative
4
5
6=
-
Frodsham & Helsby Marie Curie Fundraising Group

3

6
6=
-
Frodsham Players
3
8
8=
-
Frodsham Rainbow Club
2
9
8=
-
Frodsham Model Car Club
5
7
10
-
Chess Club
2
11
11
-
Frodsham Folk Club
5
10
12
-

£1,000 Category
On the Night Ranking
Online
Ranking
Combined Ranking
Grant
Award
NWAFA
2
2
1
£1,000
Frodsham JFC
4
1
2
£800
Frodsham Youth Association
2
5
3=
£700
Frodsham Community Association
1
6
3=
£700
Frodsham Gymnastics
6
3
5=
£250
Frodsham Manor House PTA
5
4
5=
£250
Frodsham Community Bike Project
5
5
7
-
3rd Frodsham Brownies
3
8
8
-
St Lukes Catholic Primary
5
7
9
-
Will to Work
5
9
10
-
Frodsham & District Flower Club
5
10
11
-

Sport Cheshire are awarding £200 to each of:
Frodsham Wheelers, Frodsham Rainbow Club, Frodsham Gymnastics Club and Frodsham Junior Football Club.

A huge thank-you to everyone who took part and for Main Street Community Church our generous hosts on the night. We really hope that these grants help in a small way to keep our fantastic groups doing what they do best.

You can still check out all the projects on http://rural.yourwestcheshire.co.uk/pages/2560/1/Frodsham_Community_Grants_event.html