Report reveals where councillors spent community funds

Monday May 2nd 2022

Midlothian Council Fairfield House Main


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Councillors in Midlothian gave more than £500,000 to community projects after being allocated personal funds during the pandemic.

Midlothian Council agreed to split a £900,000 pot of local environment funding between the local authority’s 18 elected members in November 2020 to ensure it could be used to directly support local groups.

And their decisions have been now been published in a report detailing where the funds were allocated and how much each councillor still had unspent.

In total £583,000 of the total fund had been allocated to projects up to April 18 this year by councillors from the possible £900,000 pot.

And the amounts varied from ward to ward with Dalkeith’s councillors allocating almost all of their £150,000, while Penicuik saw the least allocated.

A council spokesperson said: “The council agreed in 2020 that £10,000 per annum, per member, should be allocated to fund projects supported by members in their ward.

“When the accumulated funds were incorporated, the funding each councillor has to utilise is £50,000.

“At present, before the most recent projects have been added, total spending commitments are in the region of £600,000. We are currently updating the schedule of commitments to provide the latest figure, and details of the projects funded, and will provide this as soon as possible.”

The council’s most up-to-date list of how the money has been allocated shows some elected members have used all or most while others still had funds to spend when it was published.

In a number of cases the projects received joint funding from all members with one councillor named as the lead on the funding allocation.

In Penicuik ward Councillor Joe Wallace spent nearly £35,000 of his allocated funds while Councillor Andrew Hardie had allocated just £1,000 and Councillor Debbi McCall spent £21,000

Projects receiving the money included £20,000 from Councillor Wallace for a lighting upgrade at Penicuik Athletic and £10,000 each for lighting upgrades at Ladywood Leisure Centre and Penicuik YMCA.

Councillor Hardie allocated £1,000 towards a Jubilee Tree from his funding and Councillor McCall gave £10,000 for toilet refurbishments at Ladywood Centre.

In total more than £93,000 of the £150,000 available for Penicuik projects was uncommitted when the most recent report was published.

In Dalkeith almost no funds remain uncommitted with its three councillors allocating more than £146,000 of their combined projects.

Councillor Stephen Curran even went over his budget by £721 while Councillor Colin Cassidy had just £66 left in his fund. Councillor Margot Russell allocated all but £2,990.

Projects benefitting from the funding in Dalkeith included £45,000 towards Dalkeith Thistle Pavilion upgrades and £35,000 for Saltersgate School to purchase specialist training equipment.

In Bonnyrigg council leader Derek Milligan allocated more than £42,000 of his funds while Councillor Dianne Alexander used all of hers. Councillor Janet Lay-Douglas still had £41,000 left.

Most of the funding went to school projects in Bonnyrigg ward with £20,000 allocated for a sensory room at Hawthornden Primary School and nearly £9,000 set aside for Christmas lights.

In Midlothian West all three councillors had allocated around half of their total funds leaving around £78,000 uncommitted.

Councillor Pauline Winchester had £25,257 left, Councillor Russel Imrie £22,278 and Councillor Kelly Parry £30,413 uncommitted.

Among projects benefiting in the ward were £20,000 for lighting upgrade at Penicuik Athletic from Councillor WInchester’s funds, £15,700 for a Petanque Piste for Roslin Park by Councillor Imrie and £2,500 for environmental improvement in Gorge Avenue, Loanhead from Councillor Kelly Parry

In Midlothian East Councillor Peter Smaill had allocated all but £15, 333 while Councillor John Hackett still had £21,333 uncommitted while Councillor Stuart McKenzie had £18,834.

Projects benefiting included an £80,000 commitment from all three ward members to create a footpath at Easthouses Park.

In Midlothian South Councillor Jim Muirhead had just £8 left uncommitted in his fund while Councillor Cath Johnstone had £4,708 left and Councillor Kieran Munro had £33,900.

Projects allocated funding included £36,000 from Councillor Johnstone for a sensory garden upgrade at Welfare Park.

To view the full breakdown of projects allocated funds by councillors go to CLICK HERE.

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