More than £113,000 of possible funding for community schemes was not used by county councillors

Councillor Graham Lawman said tight deadlines meant he could not spend all of his empowerment fund.
Councillor Graham Lawman said tight deadlines meant he could not spend all of his empowerment fund.

Only one third of members on Northamptonshire County Council managed to spend all of a fund aimed at helping projects in their wards since being elected - with £113,00 of possible help for local schemes going by the wayside.

Earlier this week the Chronicle & Echo revealed a handful of councillors had barely touched a their yearly empowerment fund for the 2015/16 cycle.

One councillor had only spent £100 of his fund, on theatre workshops.

But further study of the empowerment fund stretching back to the 2013 elections, shows a total of £113,082 was not used.

Those funds could have been spent on supporting local youth clubs, coffee mornings, play equipment and a lot more.

Out of a possible £21,000, Councillor Graham Lawman failed to spend £16,500 in his Croyland and Swanspool ward, in Higham Ferrers.

Councillor Stephen Legg, failed to spend £12,650, though he previously told the Chron he had agreed to hand funds to the highways department for improvements to Hillcrest Avenue in Spinney Hill.

Up until 2014/15 Councillors could roll over funds until the next year to invest in longer-term projects. The Chron’s figures take into account the rolled over funds.

Out of all 57 councillors, only 20 managed to spend all £21,000 in their communities.

The top 10 Councillors with the largest amounts of unspent empowerment fund since being elected in 2013, were as follows:

1) Graham Lawman, Croyland and Swanspool, Conservative: £16,500

2) Stephen Legg, Riverside, Conservative: £12,650

3) Andrew Mercer, Rushden South, Conservative: £6,900

4) Stan Heggs, Corby Rural, Conservative: £6,318

5) Judy Shepherd, Moulton, Conservative: £5,621

6) Michael Tye, Rushden Pemberton West; Conservative: £5,350

7) Ian Morris, Silverstone, Conservative: £5,000

8) Sylvia Hughes, Irthlingborough, Conservative: £4,920

9) Jim Hakewill, Rothwell and Mawsley, Conservative: £4,075

10) Adam Collyer, Daventry West, UKIP: £3,850

Councillor Lawman, a former mayor of Wellingborough, did have schemes in place to give his money to in both the 2014/15 year and 2015/16 year, but claims some of the schemes could not be signed off in time for the end of the financial year.

For the 2015/16 year, the deadline to have the money spent was moved forward, which he says put paid to highways projects he intended to fund in his ward.

He said: “I had the schemes selected and papers drawn up, but they proved to be more difficult than one might think to do in the time.”