Lots of hard work has gone into getting people on board and setting up the administrative framework since Toothill was awarded £1 million by the National Lottery under the Big Local programme in July 2010.
However recent claims by an anonymous critic have sought to discredit the progress made and chair Kareen Boyd and her deputy Peter Egan want to clarify the facts.
Commenting on the actions of the whistle-blower Kareen said: “An individual provided the daily press with misleading information. We would invite this person to renew their involvement and work for the good of Toothill.”
Key achievements so far include:
• Set-up community engagement activities since 2010 using £30,000 Big Local start-up money;
• First formal Toothill Partnership Committee established in March 2013;
• First community chest funding cycle opened in October 2013.
Residents of Toothill will receive a 2014 calendar delivered with the January Link magazine. Printed on magnetic material it will include significant Big Local dates under a photo collage of Toothill buildings (above) by Cheryline Gonsalves who won a competition organised by the Big Local committee. She is pictured (below) with chairperson Kareen Boyd and committee member Peter Egan.
Currently none of the £1m has been released as the mandatory requirements set by the lottery are not yet complete.
Explaining this Peter said: “Several complex matters are being addressed in parallel and this takes time.”
Meanwhile, the fund resides with Big Local and not, as other media reports claim, with Swindon Borough Council.
The Partnership Committee comprises 11 individuals, nine of whom are Toothill residents. Kareen, of Old Town, is the only chairperson so far.
Describing the committee’s role Kareen said: “It exists to establish whether residents’ aspirations meet the lottery’s criteria, and to match community objectives. We cannot fund council responsibilities.”
The initial grant of £30,000 to cover start-up costs was placed with Swindon Borough Council as an interim local trusted organisation responsible for releasing funds as directed by the committee.
This money is now exhausted, having been spent on engagement, local groups, events, gathering outline requirements and administration. However a further £20,000 is being released for pathway funding, to assist in getting the lottery requirements in place.
Identifying an early opportunity to release funding into the community the committee is making most of this additional money available via bids of less than £500. The committee is now working on the means to access the £1 million for larger bids.
Kareen said: “We have initially earmarked £15,000 as an excellent opportunity for community funding prior to the £1m being released.”
Commenting on the long term nature of the award, Big Local representative for Toothill Helen Garforth said: “Big Local is about doing things right, not necessarily doing things quickly. Residents in Toothill are deciding how to use their funding over at least 10 years to make their area an even better place to live.”
To get involved mail your interest to: Toothill.email@example.com or write to the Toothill Big Local, c/o Toothill Community Centre, Dunwich Drive, Toothill