Heighington parish council vote to keep payments for halls in Heighington and Redworth

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

A PARISH council has voted to continue giving grants to two village halls despite calls for the funding to be scrapped.

Members of Heighington Parish Council overruled a motion to impose a 20 per cent cut to grants worth £2,300 for Heighington and Redworth village hall committees.

The move was put forward by parish council chairman, Coun John McGuckin, who said village halls needed to take greater ownership of their finances after Darlington Borough Council removed a £3,220 parish grant.

Coun McGuckin said the council was committed to spending £4,400 to maintain its new sports pavilion on the Redworth Road sports field, and “needed to cut its cloth.”

However, Coun Gerald Lee, Darlington Borough Council’s ward member for Heighington and Coniscliffe, told a meeting the £1,500 donation to Heighington and £800 at Redworth were vital components of the parish plan and had to be maintained.

He said: “We cannot justify spending £4,400 on maintaining the sports field and reduce the village hall grants by 20 per cent, it’s absolutely crazy.

“The village hall is the centre of the community and we have two communities who work very hard and need this money.

“There are a lot of people who depend on the village halls for meetings and Scout groups, and we have to help the volunteers who work to keep the buildings running.”

Coun Lee proposed the council remove a £100 charity donation fund, and reduce a £350 Christmas tree budget for The Chestnuts, in School Aycliffe, to £90, to allow it to maintain the village hall grants.

The move was unanimously agreed by councillors, but Coun McGuckin said he was disappointed by the decision.

He said: “The village halls should be able to look after themselves and their finances.

“We have to cut our cloth and I think these cuts are logical, the sports field has to be maintained because it is an asset.

“We are a very hands-on council and have saved the villages a lot of money in the past.

“Common sense has gone out of the window.”

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