Backing to be given to tax-payer funded £200,000 scheme

ALMOST £200,000 of taxpayers’ cash is to be invested in supporting Community Land Trusts when they start up.

The trusts, which are run by volunteers, are designed to hand the people of a town or village the power to build housing, workspaces or community facilities that are owned and controlled by the community and are made available at affordable levels.

Villagers in Stretham and Wilburton are in the final stages of establishing their trust and are currently looking for areas within the two parishes where development could take place.

Now, East Cambridgeshire District Council is preparing to set aside £200,000 to establish a small loans system for other communities looking to start up similar trusts, though it admits there are risks to the public purse.

In a presentation to the council’s development and transport committee, chief executive John Hill said that the council risked losing any money loaned out if a prospective scheme failed.

He added that, in order to reduce its risk, the funding would be handed out in phases.

Though the council is currently mid-way through a four-year budget plan that is aiming to save £2million by 2015, the authority says that the money to fund the initiative would be taken from reserves.