Opposition councillors say funding plan for volunteer groups hits West Lothian gala days

Opposition councillors say that a two-year funding plan for volunteer groups comes at a cost of community gala days.

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 5:00 am
Updated Friday, 2nd July 2021, 10:07 am
Councillor Carl John (SNP).
Councillor Carl John (SNP).

The plan was branded “robbing Peter to pay Paul”.

West Lothian Council has rolled £40,000 that would have been spent on gala days and community events into a funding package this year and next for the Third Sector.

It has been welcomed across the board, not least by the charity groups who have devoted a good part of their year to preparing bids for annual funding.

Councillor Frank Anderson, depute SNP group leader

But at a meeting of the council executive, the SNP’s Carl John said: “The bit I disagree with is us using gala funds. We’ve got seven galas in our ward. Most are still active, even though they haven’t been able to do any fundraising. They have expenses. They have insurance.

"In Kirknewton their steel storage container has collapsed and a lot of equipment has been destroyed. lt’s s a bit unfair taking money away from the committees who are all working away unpaid, hoping for the day next year when we can all enjoy galas again.

“Is there no way we do this without taking money away from gala committees?”

Dougie Grierson, regeneration team leader, told the meeting that the grant was an annual one and, as last year because of Covid restrictions, there had been no requests for funding this year.

“The gala grant will be available next year again,” he added.

An amendment to retain the £40,000 for gala committees was defeated.

Later, Councillor Fran k Anderson, depute SNP group leader, said: “Labour and Tory councillors combined to vote against supporting our galas to build up their financial ability to hopefully run galas next year.”

He added: ”Like every organisation, gala committees have had their much anticipated events curtailed. They have been unable, or very restricted, in their ability to fundraise in support of their gala day funds.

“They have taken a much needed £40,000 from these annual events to fund other groups. This was nothing more than robbing Peter to pay Paul, then claim we have put extra money into the voluntary sector.”

Cllr Anderson said gala committees would have preferred to have cash in their accounts instead of having to “scurry around” fundraising.