A GROUP that uses lottery money to carry out community projects have invited Councillors to their next meeting following recent criticism at a Council meeting.

Last month members of Bradford Council's Bradford South Area Committee raised concerns that projects being funded by the Big Local Project in Scholemoor and Lidget Green were too focused on sport.

The £1 million, 10-year project funded by the Big Lottery Fund sees a board of local people choose which community projects to spend the money on.

At the Committee meeting Councillors were given a list of projects that have been funded in the past year. But they raised concerns that som many of the projects seemed to be focused on sport.

They claimed issues like drug taking in the area and isolation of certain groups were seemingly not as well supported.

They claimed the group should instead be using its £1 million funding on a wider variety of projects, and called for the chairman of the group, Abbas Najib, to appear at a future meeting.

Fears that £1 million community improvement project "too sport focused"

Mr Najib says the members of the committee should instead attend the next meeting of the Big Local Board.

He said Councillors can attend those meetings, but so far appearances have been "sparse."

He added: "It is evident that the councillors would benefit from a clearer understanding of the Big Local initiative.

"Despite their assertion, the Big Local initiative was not set up to focus primarily on social cohesion or to tackle drugs. The focus of the initiative continuously evolves and focuses on social issues highlighted by residents who live in the area, based on a bi-annual review process, using information gathered by an independent research body.

"Further, an objective and basic assessment of the accounts and annual reports will reveal that dozens of non-sports related projects and groups have been funded - any claim otherwise is factually incorrect. This has included, for example, community arts projects, health initiatives, and environmental work.

Greenmoor Big Local is supported by a Representative of the Local Trust, the charity that funds Big Local nationally, and in their view 'Greenmoor is a successful and effective resident-led partnership. The Local Trust’s Chief Executive recently visited the area and made clear his appreciation of the partnership’s work.'

"Projects are discussed and decisions are made at the GreenMoor Big Local Board meetings which are open to councillors to attend so they can give their input and cast their votes. Unfortunately the attendance of councillors to the Board meetings has been sparse.

"The flagship project was actually a joint initiative between GreenMoor Big Local, the Council and the local schools, and was incepted by and built by the local Council.

"It is astonishing that a project that was incepted by and built by the Council is now being criticised by the same Council.

"The GreenMoor Big Local Board is accountable to the local community and the funding body, the Local Trust and not to the local Council. However we are of course aware of the potential valuable contribution councillors could make.

"Instead of attending the area committee, in order to give the councillors a full opportunity to give their input, discuss their concerns and learn about upcoming projects, the GreenMoor Big Local Board officially invites Councillors Joanne Dodds, Tariq Hussain, David Warburton and Alan Wainwright, plus all other interested Councillors, to the next GreenMoor Big Local Board meeting on March 14 at 6pm at the Healthy Living Centre on Lidget Place, Bradford, BD7 2LP.

"As much of the meeting will be dedicated to the discussion with councillors as they want."