East Cambs Council pulls the plug on £13,500 ESACT grant following county council investigation

The Ely and Soham Association of Community Transport (ESACT) will not be receiving £13,500 from East

The Ely and Soham Association of Community Transport (ESACT) will not be receiving £13,500 from East Cambridgeshire District Council's community transport grant. - Credit: Archant

A £13,500 grant to community transport provider ESACT that was frozen in January has now been withdrawn.

East Cambs District Council suspended the payment following news that a county council investigation into ESACT and its parent body FACT had begun.

The council’s community services committee has agreed to roll over the cash to next year and extend the range of providers who might apply for it.

ESACT – the Ely and Soham Association of Community Transport – was originally awarded £13,500 during this year’s budget planning by East Cambs Council.

The committee was told this week the grant was “subject to a satisfactory resolution of the ongoing investigation.

“The council has not paid the grant to ESACT; the investigation of ESACT is ongoing and is not likely to be resolved in the very short term”.

Councillors were told not only were they waiting for the outcome of the investigation but also awaiting a wider review by the county council of all community transport provision and needs.

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However the good news is that East Cambs expects to have a total of £43,500 available from February for community groups now that this year’s allocation has been rolled over.

“The community transport grant scheme is not limited to existing community transport providers,” says a report.

“The fund is also open to charities, social enterprises and community groups, including parish councils.”

To access the grant, an organisation must demonstrate that they have an interest in transport and accessibility, and are a formally constituted group.

Previous applicants of the grant include ESACT, CCC- Total Transport Project, The Voluntary Network- Community Transport in Newmarket and Voluntary and Community Action East Cambridgeshire- East Cambs Social Car Scheme.

The report said: “It is unlikely that the ESACT investigation will conclude in the short term. The council has been holding the £13,500 allocation since January 2017.

“Without a known outcome date it is not recommended that the council continue to hold this grant allocation.”

By rolling the 2016/17 and 2017.18 balances over this could be a bigger sum to pitch for next year.

“This would allow officers to invite applications with a potential bidding pot of £43,500 (if 2018/19 provision is agreed by council in February 2018) or £28,500 if only 2016/17 and 2017/18 funds are available,” says the report.

“This would enable meaningful applications to come forward and officers would seek to maximise the available funds to ensure the fund is utilised in the most efficient and effective manner.”