Azara Blog: Lottery Fund bounces Cambridge's bid for Jesus Green money

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Date published: 2009/04/17

The BBC says:

An application for lottery funding to improve facilities in a Cambridge park has been rejected.

Cambridge City Council applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a £141,400 grant to upgrade Jesus Green park in September 2008.

The council's bid focused on retaining the character of the park and creating greater accessibility.

But the HLF panel said the council's plan did not include the greater range of activities they looked for.

The council's revamp included building a new cafe and public square, a skateboarding facility, an area for band concerts and theatre performances, and a new play area.

During the next few months the council will meet with residents and stakeholder groups to determine how to progress with the improvements the HLF identified.

Councillor Julie Smith said: "The HLF project planning grant did give us the opportunity to do a lot of background research, not least in developing plans for future tree planting for Jesus Green."

If the lottery bid had been successful the council would have had to match the funding provided by the HLF.

This application summarised everything that is wrong with government generally and the lottery fund in particular. Jesus Green is a core responsibility of Cambridge City Council and it is ridiculous that a rich city like Cambridge is even applying to the lottery fund for money to cover this kind of park development, most of which had little point. And most of it had little point exactly because the city was applying to the lottery fund, and so they made the application completely grandiose and over the top. Smith's comments about "future tree planting" are particularly egregious since the city was going to arbitrarily and unnecessarily cut down a large number of the existing trees just because somebody or other felt like it would be amusing to shuffle the location of trees around the park.

The BBC article also singularly failed to point out that the city itself estimated the cost of the development to be £4.3m and was applying to the lottery fund to cover 3/4 of the total project costs. And, for example, 300k of that cost was to be blown on a "micro-hydro electric power project" just so the city could pretend to be "green". Needless to say, if such a hydro project made any sense (i.e. actually made money by producing sufficient electricity to justify its large cost), then the city could do it perfectly well by itself.

All Jesus Green really needs is for many of the pavements to be re-paved. Unfortunately Cambridge City Council seems totally incapable of even doing that small job.

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