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Newmarket community initiatives miss out on West Suffolk Council cash but grants set to be given to groups in Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill and Brandon




Community initiatives in Newmarket appear to have been snubbed by a district council, which has left out all town-focused projects from its annual grant list.

Initiatives focused just on Newmarket which have missed out on West Suffolk Council’s £467,000 Community Chest pot included Newmarket Swimming Club, The Racing Centre, and All Saints’ Church.

Cheques for schemes focused on just Bury St Edmunds, Risby, Haverhill and Brandon, along with other district-wide initiatives, are set to be given the green light by the authority’s cabinet on Tuesday.

All Saints Church , Newmarket, which asked for £20,000 towards its Cornerstone project.
All Saints Church , Newmarket, which asked for £20,000 towards its Cornerstone project.

But Stanton councillor Jim Thorndyke, chairman of the grant working party which drew up the list of organisations set to get taxpayers’ cash, denied the town had missed out when questioned by the Journal, sister title to Suffolk News, about the absence of Newmarket schemes.

“We do not agree with the Journal’s suggestion that the grant working party have ‘snubbed’ any organisation or any town in its diligent consideration of Community Chest applications,” he said.

“It is really disappointing, given that more than half of these organisations recommended by the grant working party to receive funding help people in and around Newmarket, that the Journal has taken such a negative stance.”

Cllr John Borda with the Newmarket SOS Bus.
Cllr John Borda with the Newmarket SOS Bus.

Newmarket’s Racing Centre had asked for £15,000 match funding to employ a detached youth workerwho would be based at its Fred Archer Way headquarters but would be working for the whole town, was one of the projects rejected.

All Saints’ Church also asked for £20,000 from the council’s funding pot towards its ambitious £1 million Cornerstone project which will transform the church into a community hub, but was told no.

Another scheme which appears to have missed out on council funding was the town’s SOS Bus, which asked for £7,000 to help get the mobile advice centre back on the road.

.Richard Keeble leads EPIC Dad Community Interest Company. It is a not-for-profit organisation focused on supporting fathers, father figures. Pictured with Cllr Robert Everitt cutting the ribbon. Picture: Mark Westley
.Richard Keeble leads EPIC Dad Community Interest Company. It is a not-for-profit organisation focused on supporting fathers, father figures. Pictured with Cllr Robert Everitt cutting the ribbon. Picture: Mark Westley

Newmarket town councillor, John Borda, who is behind the SOS Bus project, said he was ‘more disappointed that Newmarket is a bit bereft of grants’.

The grant pot is oversubscribed, the council said, and added that feedback was offered to the 29 groups which were turned down to help them in the future.

One group which often does well from the Community Chest scheme is the EPIC Dad project, which operates from a new base in Newmarket Road, in Risby.

If the grant list is approved next week it will be handed £14,500 to support fathers, father figures and families.

In 2017/18 the project, which was then based at the Abundant Life Church in Lakenheath, was given £24,491. And in 2018/19 and 2019/20 it was given £15,000 each financial year after a decision of the then Forest Heath District Council.

Richard Keeble, the project leader of EPIC Dad, said: “Our area of work quite probably stands out a bit, because there’s not many services geared specifically for fathers.”

Haverhill Community Trust is also set to win £6,900 from the council, and will use the cash to build youth engagement around the HAVE YOU website and social media project.

Other groups which have been successful is Friends of Priory School, in Bury St Edmunds, which won £5,304 for a gardening project to improve the indoor and outdoor space at the school. And St Peter’s Church, in Brandon, will be given £9,623 for a weekly repair and share project, which will promote ‘fixing things’.

St John's Church, in Beck Row, will be handed money for more lunch clubs for the elderly and young children to help different generations interact more.

And Suffolk Rape Crisis, West Suffolk Citizens Advice, Sharing Parenting, The Bury Drop In, and Our Special Friends are also set to get money from the council.

Cllr Robert Everitt, cabinet member for families and communities, said: “The work that we have done in previous years, helping many community groups, charities and organisations establish themselves through Community Chest and our councillor locality grants, has proven itself invaluable, particularly in these past 12 months.

"It is going to be just as important going forward into the recovery. Our role is in supporting these groups and investing in their work to deliver real benefits for our local residents and I am looking forward to discussing the Grant Working Party’s recommendations with my Cabinet colleagues when we meet next week.”

And as well as the Community Chest grants, the cabinet will also be asked to consider funding the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds to the tune of more than £60,000.

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