Lights Out

Tourism appears to be something of a political hot potato around town right now.

Ahh – you say potato, we say potatoe.

Wouldn’t it be unfortunate if the long-term prospects for the town were caught up in something of a political tit for tat played out in the local paper?

Hey hoe.

But a little more factual detail can be found in the publication of the Cabinet papers [pdf] for when the LibLabIndie lot next put up their public show of a united front at the Town Hall next Wednesday.

Budget Updates are usually dull.

We hate to disappoint you, but the 2017/18 edition won’t be competing for an audience with the midweek football next Wednesday.

But wait! What’s this?

It looks like the plans to light up the heritage assets of Sunny Colch have been dimmed for now:

“Feasibility work has been undertaken into possible schemes and costs for lighting the Walls and Key Heritage Sites and the estimates range from £50,000 up to a total of £250,000.”

Which leads to:

“This project cannot proceed as such larger budgets would be required.”

Which will no doubt upset the “heritage obsessed” Tory Cllr Darius Laws.

Will the last person to leave Sunny Colch… etc.

A funding gap of £625,000 in the budget proposals has emerged. The Cabinet paper explains how savings need to be “identified.”

As ever, you need to look beyond the local political careerists to see where this financial strain is coming from.

Spoiler alert:

It’s those higher up the political food chain with the real power that are doing the dirty.

Cabinet will be asked to vote next Wednesday on accepting the government’s four year local settlement. It is recognised that this final figure might be lower than if the annual funding agreement remains.

Essentially Cabinet is being asked to play political poker with the CBC finances.

Let’s twist again?

Meanwhile it looks like money IS available for the beauty contest for the public vote in the Colchester Big Choice.

£200,000 was made available ahead of the local elections this year for local groups to grab some cash.

In a non-election year this has now been reduced to £100,000.

Fancy that.

“A grant funding pot of £100k similar to the Big Choice scheme to enable Community Groups and Projects to do more in their local areas.

The public will have a say in who gets the money again this year but the approach will include the opportunity to bid for smaller amounts of funding, opening up the grants to smaller organisations and aimed at those who may not usually apply for public funds.”

A common criticism of the Big Choice earlier this year was that the funding was just too… BIG.

A minimum of £25,000 was amount for each applicant – which leaves you pretty stuffed if you are a very worthy local volunteer group that only needs £5,000 to take you to the next level of your ambitions.

Plus a further £40,000 has been found by Cabinet for:

“A range of events and activities in or around the Town Centre over the next twelve to eighteen months.”

Best not organise these for the evening. Not with the walls not being lit up.