A plan to save money by getting volunteers to take on work in their area has been a great success, Penistone Area Council was told.
The scheme, introduced by Barnsley Council last year, encourages organisations to apply for money in return for matching the value of the grant. And that is normally paid for in volunteers’ time rather than cash.
Coun Paul Hand Davis was concerned that the council was getting value for money, often amounting to several thousand pounds and awarded from a £28,720 pot by the Penistone Ward Alliance.
But officials and other councillors were quick to assure him that there was huge support for the scheme – with volunteers’ time often paying several times over for the grant.
Officials pointed out that there was a strong tradition of community action in the Penistone area and described some projects as massive, with a high standard of applications.
Coun Ann Rusby said that before the scheme was introduced, many groups had been unable to do what they wanted because they did not have the money. “It’s just snowballed,” she said.
Chairman Robert Barnard said the area was helped by the strength of the Ward Alliance – a group of councillors and representatives of parishes and community organisations.
“They approach things in a very professional manner,” he said, “We are fortunate compared to some areas in that we have an established network.”
The Area Council has £150,000 to spend – and is looking for ideas to use it to help the area.
“We do need to identify a genuine need and look at how we can address it,” Coun Barnard said. “We are open to any suggestion, no matters how wild they may seem to begin with.”
The plea came after councillors heard that a second attempt to find a bus company to run a market day service into Penistone had failed to attract any bids.
A threat to the mobile library service is concerning Penistone West councillor Joe Unsworth.
Barnsley Council plans to cut a further £28m from its spending. This could include abandoning the service, though if the proposals get the green light next year a home book delivery service may continue.
Coun Unsworth said members should consider the service it provided to the community and look at alternatives. But some members wondered if the need for libraries would continue with the growth of electronic books.
A scheme to teach drystone walling, forestry and hedging skills is to be extended to people of any age.
The countryside skills project funded by the Area Council is currently open to youngsters aged 16 to 24. But councillors have agreed to older applicants after hearing there was not a large number of unemployed youngsters in the Penistone area aged under 24 and that initial takeup had been low.
Tom Handley, whose company Growforest won the £100,000 contract to provide the training, said he had keen applicants who would help keep the area’s walls in good shape future who were too old for the present scheme.
While training was part of the project, it was also about making the area more attractive and helping the economy. Already one student, who is in foster care, was looking to develop a business and was discussing garden walling projects with potential customers.