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Council to make cash available for crowdfunders

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More than £100,000 is to be made available by Dudley Council to support popular crowdfunding projects in borough communities.

The move is part of a number of policy changes being brought forward to make it easier to allocate cash donated by developers building in the borough.

A report to the local authority’s ruling cabinet reveals there is currently more than £107,000 unspent through the Neighbourhood Funding element of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

This cash can be spent on a wide range of projects that “support the development of an area” – but none of it has yet been allocated due to red tape.

New proposals set to go before cabinet next week would see the cash pledged to suitable projects identified by council officers on the Crowdfunder UK website.

A maximum of £10,000 will be pledged to any individual project, and will only go to schemes which have already reached at least 25 per cent of their funding goals. Only projects committed to an “all or nothing” funding model will be eligible, so if the total target figure is not raised none of the money is taken.

Projects chosen for cash will have to sign a contract with the council to safeguard the cash, and provide a progress report 12 months down the line to prove the money has been invested as promised.

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of the council, said:

We currently have a lot of money given to us by developers to improve the borough sitting unspent. We only have so long to use it, and after that we have to return it to the developers by law.
We don’t want to do that, we want to use it to benefit the borough on schemes that have strong community backing.
If there are crowdfunding schemes attracting large numbers of cash donations, it gives us a strong sense that there is a community will to see and make them happen.
These are the kinds of projects we should be supporting, but red tape around our policies at present is preventing this from happening.
This process gives local communities the power to make things happen with the support of the local authority, and I very much welcome it.

The cabinet will also discuss and review the existing local arrangements around Section 106 agreements.

It will be discussed at the next meeting of the cabinet on Tuesday March 17 from 6pm at the Council House in Priory Road.

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