Last October, the government announced two funding streams to help offset the disruption caused by the construction of Phase 1 of HS2. The HS2 Community and Environment Fund (the CEF) is intended to help local groups, while the Business and Local Economy Fund (the BLEF) is aimed at boosting local business.
These two schemes are being administered by the independent Groundwork grant management body. Last July, I met Cathy Elliott, who is the chair of the HS2 Community and Environment Fund. It is worth emphasising that Groundwork UK will be disbursing total funds of £40 million, over the next 11 years.
About that time, the recipients of the first two local schemes to be awarded money under the CEF fund were announced. £17,198 went to the Coleshill Play Area and Adult Activity trail, on the ‘Jack Adams Field’ owned by the parish council. Ballinger Waggoners Cricket Club received £9,762, to purchase a mini tractor to improve the cricket ground and for access to the existing children’s play area.
In October, the Lee Parish Council received £44,100, to help replace the wooden fort in the children’s play area there.
The first local grant from BLEF was made the same month to Buckinghamshire Business First. £75,000 will go to set up the Visit Buckinghamshire Advisory Service. This money is intended to support local retail and tourism businesses, up to 5 km either side of the Buckinghamshire route, which may be affected by HS2. I was pleased to hear that there was a lot of interest from local businesses.
We should not forget that this funding is available. I hope local communities will put forward schemes which could be of benefit within our parishes bearing the brunt of HS2. To put it mildly, community engagement has not always been HS2’s strong point!
There are also two community engagement managers who have set up monthly drop-in sessions locally, who are available to meet local residents. These take place at the Chalfont St Giles Library on the first Saturday of each month, from 11 am to 2 pm, and at the Great Missenden Library on one Friday each month, from 2 pm to 6 pm.
(A shorter version of this article appeared originally in the Bucks Free Press.)
UPDATE TO THIS ARTICLE – POSTED 30 OCTOBER 2018
Another grant of £74,950 was made by the HS2 Community and Environment Fund on Friday 26 October 2018. The award has been made to the Road Farm Countryways Community Interest Company. This is based in Great Missenden and provides opportunities for young adults with learning difficulties and physical disabilities through Care Farming. This is the therapeutic use of farming practices. The funding will enable this group to refurbish an existing rundown barn to provide upgraded and accessible changing room and toilet facilities, and to repair and restore other buildings onsite, including providing a training and workshop facility.