Bid to beef up the focus on Hucknall in Ashfield

AN OVERHAUL planned for an Ashfield District Council group focused on Hucknall will pave the way for more effective use of a beefed-up funding pot for the town.

Area consultative groups were set up several years ago in Hucknall, Kirkby and Sutton — along with a fourth for the rural areas of Ashfield.

They offer a chance for councillors to come together and discuss subjects and projects specific to their electoral division and to engage with residents and community groups.

But there have been complaints that Hucknall’s meetings, which are held every two months at the John Godber Centre on Ogle Street, are ineffective.

Attendance is poor, with just a handful of local diehards at the meetings, even though time is set aside for residents to ask questions.

In a bid to revamp the consultative groups, Coun Chris Baron (Lab), of Hucknall, was charged with leading a district-wide review.

A series of recommendations was due to be discussed at a meeting of Ashfield District Council.

Among those is a plan to change the way the groups can use funding pots given to local councillors for the benefit of the community.

Already it has been decided to increase this from £1,000 per councillor to £2,500 for each member. In Hucknall, this is a total of £22,500. Under proposed new rules for area consultative groups, the money could be pooled to help fund larger projects.

The consultative group also gets a slice of grant money from Ashfield Council based on an amount per resident. Previously, there was a very short window for applications but under the changes, this grants system would run throughout the year. In the past, the cash has been used to support causes as varied as Hucknall Christmas Carnival and a boxing club.

Other proposals include changing the name of the groups and creating a database of local contacts who would be directly invited to meetings.

The next meeting of the Hucknall Area Consultative Group is at the John Godber on Tuesday June 26.