Funding for Community Projects 2020- 2021
1) Amongst all the (non-parished) Wards bidding for NCIL funds, KDBH is unique in having a high level of community interaction through its Neighbourhood Forum. So, for example, we all an on-line survey to seek community feedback on the KDBH bids that generated >1,000 responses, the results of which were an important element in our report to the Council.
What we had not realised, however, is that the Council’s process of applying a single standardised assessment across all bids meant that our community feedback could not be included, hence our queries on scoring. Having identified the issue, there was total agreement that excluding a source of well-structured and independent community feedback is clearly not right; and that the assessment for 21/22 needs to consider how to reflect differences due to KDBH having a Neighbourhood Forum.
2) One topic drew much discussion: if a bid is discounted because its cost exceeds funds available, can another, lower-cost bid that scores well be considered for approval?This is pertinent to the St Philips Church and Dorridge Scout Group Bids, and is the reason why so much of Dorridge funds rolled over into next year.
Differences in opinion have been debated twice at the Council’s Scrutiny Board, resulting in the Council’s firm position that a lesser cost bid cannot ‘leapfrog’ a bid rejected on cost grounds. Ultimately, we agreed to differ. But what we could all agree on is that it is entirely appropriate for the Forum to liaise with all bidders as they develop their bids and, in doing so, create awareness of the overall picture and potential mix of outcomes.
3). The term ‘pass’ for a bid is confusing and open to misinterpretation. The clarification provided is that ‘pass’ means a bid has met the minimum criteria for it to be considered - but not that it automatically has in principle approval. The Council will seek to make this clearer for 2021/2 bids.
13 October 2020
The Council has just released details of the bids received for community project funding this year. In the KDBH area six project bids were received. The funding for 2020/21 is currently allocated by the Council on a Ward basis as follows: Knowle £55,122 and Dorridge £41,959 making a total of £97,081, a sizeable increase from £38,000 available last year. This is great news and means we are able to deliver a much greater level of benefit to our community this year.
We are very keen to receive resident feedback on the project bids and as we are unable to hold an Open Forum meeting as we did last year to review and discuss the projects we have put together a 'quick and easy' voting and comments form. Time is short, however, as we have to respond to Solihull Council by 23rd October which means we need to act fast. As we will need a couple of days to review the voting results and feedback received as well as prepare our response to the Council we will need to close voting at 17.00 on 21st October. Vote for your preferred project via the button below.
Thank you in advance for reviewing the project bids submitted and providing us with your views. This represents a very important part of our engagement process with the local KDBH community. The more responses we receive the greater confidence Solihull Council will have that the most supported and appropriate project bids have been selected for funding.
1. Dorridge and District Residents Assoc.
Our project is to extend the existing hard paths to make a complete circuit (making a half-mile round). The proposed (and agreed) route will wind through the new saplings and wild grasses, skirting the remaining edges of the park, thereby opening up all kinds of opportunities for all who use the park
3. Knowle Allotments Society
The allotment boundary with St Lawrence Close is insecure and there has been vandalism and theft in the last 2 years. The project is to erect a fence to make the site secure. Over the last 6 months the demand for allotments has increased – we have gone from 4 people on our waiting list to 18. Enhancing the safety and security of plotholders will increase everyone’s enjoyment of the allotments
5. The Knowle Society
The playground equipment in Knowle Park requires investment. This project proposes to:
- Renovate or replace existing tired equipment;
- Expand the age range that the facilities address;
- Expand the capacity of the facilities to meet the demands of the growing community;
- Meet the needs of people with physical and mental disabilities.
4. St Philip's Church and Community Centre
This bid is to cover part of the cost for completion of the toilet facilities (the remainder of the funding for this module of the project having already been raised).
Part of the wider project to redevelop St Philips church with an integrated community hub to replace the current church and hall on the site.
6. Visit Knowle
This project seeks funding to improve the physical environment of central Knowle through the introduction of:
1. New feature street furniture
2. New planters
3. Street art feature
Part of a range of projects that Visit Knowle hopes to implement to improve the social and physical village environment.
10 June 2020
£97,081 Funding Confirmed for New Community Projects in KDBH
There's More Time to Bid This Year + We're Here to Help!
You may recall that one of the benefits of Knowle, Dorridge and Bentley Heath (KDBH) having an adopted Neighbourhood Plan (NP) is that we get a larger share of the money that developers pay to the Council for some new builds in our Area. The Council must make these funds (called NCIL) available to the community, who then get to say how they would like to spend it within a certain set of nationally defined criteria. Last year two community projects were successful in their bid for funding:
Dorridge Village Hall: Extension - £20,000 Knowle Village Hall: Emergency Exits - £8,200
In addition, by working in liaison with the Council, the £4,000 bid from Pennys Youth Café in Knowle to refurbish the café and purchase IT equipment was successfully sourced from an alternative fund.
A big 'shout out' to Ellie from the Council for her positive and proactive approach working closely with us to improve the process for KDBH - Solihull's only Neighbourhood Forum with an adopted Neighbourhood Plan.
the total amount now confirmed as available in KDBH for 2020/21
This total is currently split into two pots:
Dorridge and Bentley Heath: £41,960
Although Covid-19 related delays to construction have reduced the total originally anticipated, the figure is still double last year's funding. :)
As you might expect, there is a formal application process and defined criteria that the Council uses for assessing the relative merits of different bids (typically there won't be enough money to do everything). For example, more points are awarded if a proposal can demonstrate how it links into the objectives and/or policies set out (and voted on by residents) in the KDBH Neighbourhood Plan (NP). To help with this, and provide a 'big picture' view locally of the bids coming through, the Council will refer all funding applications to the Forum.
We are very happy to support any community group or organisation who may be thinking about bidding and would like some advice or guidance to understand: what type of bid will qualify; what is required; and how to go about preparing a bid application.
This is a really important strand of Forum activity, with the aim to help realise the full potential of the scheme to benefit our community.
Roger Cook, our Deputy Chair, has therefore taken up the mantle to lead all funding related activities on behalf of the Forum team. Even if a bid doesn't qualify under this particular scheme, Roger is also working with the Council to identify potential alternative sources of funding or assistance that may apply.
So, if you've got an idea that you want to sound out, please do get in contact with Roger at email@example.com.
As an aid to getting your thinking flowing:
you can read details of last year's submissions Here
or perhaps Covid-19 has triggered some thoughts on aspects of life in our community that could benefit from some investment?
Appendix 4 of our Neighbourhood Plan describes a number of 'Community Actions' that residents have flagged for future action. Click Here to view this document
More details on how the Council operates the scheme and how to apply via the button below.
Applications can be submitted any time from now until the closing date on 1st September
Outcomes and Learnings 2020/21
Back in December 2020, in the depth of finalising our response to the Council’s Local Plan consultation, the successful bids for NCIL community funding were confirmed. In all, the Council received 26 bids from across the Borough, six of which from KDBH (details below). Three successful bids from KDBH were awarded the highest scores:
A Path for Bentley Heath Park; Renovation of Knowle Park Play Equipment; Central Knowle Improvements
In addition, Knowle Allotments Society were asked to provide more details on their bid for Security Fencing (£3,000) for further review at the Council’s next Decision Meeting on 21st April.
Congratulations and very well done to all involved in producing high quality bids. Work is already moving apace on project implementation, so keep a look out for some visible improvements to our community facilities coming your way soon!
Whilst all Knowle Ward funds are thus expected to be used up, in Dorridge £29,095 will roll over to the next funding round. After some consideration, the Forum saw a need to better understand, and to be able to clearly explain, the reasons for this. On 9 December 2020, in advance of the Council’s meeting to ratify the results, we emailed Cllr Alison Rolf (who leads the Decision Board) flagging some queries, see Here.
Consequently, in mid-February we welcomed the opportunity for a review with Cllr Rolf and two of the Council’s NCIL team. The aim was to consider learnings from 2020/21 generally, and specifically the queries raised. The open and frank discussions were helpful and productive, with a number of changes mutually agreed and one point on which we agreed to differ. You can read Cllr Rolf's response Here.
In summary, key learnings and actions are:
Funding for Community Projects in 2020/21 - £150,000 + available
We'll know exactly the funds available in financial year 2020/21 in early April. However, the pot already stands at over £150,000 - a big step up on the £37,800 in 2019/20. Bidding opens in April 2020, probably through to the end of August. So interested groups can get their thinking caps on straight away!
If you are a KDBH community group or organisation and want some guidance or support in preparing a bid, please contact Roger Cook, who is leading work on this on behalf of the Forum Team, via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Council's funding request form, with supporting documents, are available Here
In January 2020, we met with the Council to discuss learnings from the scheme's first year of operation and what could be improved - particularly as we are unique in the Borough as having an active Neighbourhood Forum with an adopted Neighbourhood Plan. Other non-Parished areas are generally less aware of the funding available and therefore more reliant on funding decisions being made by the Council. Key points for improvement are:
The need to ensure greater awareness of the scheme across the KDBH community. This is our greatest concern, and one where we can really help. We've therefore committed to using the strong local networks created during Neighbourhood Plan development, as well as our website and Facebook page, to reach out across the community.
The need to improve the Council's documentation on the scheme, making it easier to understand and clearer on what does and doesn't count as a potential project. The Council agreed to look at this.
More help and guidance for potential bidders. The Council has agreed to refer bidders to a nominated Forum contact (see above) for initial guidance and support, eg. to help identify if/how a project fits with the Neighbourhood Plan; where there may be cross-benefits where bids work together; or where other sources of funding may be more appropriate / available.
Improving assessment of bids. The Council would find it really helpful to have a clear framework of KDBH overall community needs and priorities which they can use to more easily and objectively assess bids. So we've committed to working with the community to try and develop this. Starting with the Community Actions already in the Neighbourhood Plan, we would look ultimately perhaps to creating a more 'strategic' rolling 3-year view.
We will keep you posted on developments via this page.....