CASH-strapped Bolton Council is giving away tens of thousands of pounds to community groups — to help reduce demand on its own services.

Three projects have received £50,000 from the Community Empowerment Fund after showing how their new initiatives will make long-term savings for the council and help the borough's young people along the way.

The fund provided the cash to Moss Bank Community Sports Club, Bolton Lads and Girls Club and Friends of Haslam Park — and other groups are now being encouraged to bid from a further pot of £350,000.

Groups are able to apply for either a one-off investment of £2,000 or up to £50,000 over two years in order to develop an innovative scheme further.

Smaller awards of £2,000 and £1,500 have been made to the LIFT People group and the High Street and Peabody Street Residents Association to organise activities for young people in Breightmet and for an after school club and weekend activity group for youngsters.

Bolton Council has committed to cutting £43 million from its budget over the next two years and council chiefs are preparing for any additional savings they may be forced to make after the chancellor’s budget next week.

Council leader Cliff Morris said: “We are really pleased to announce this funding for the first five projects across the borough.

“All of these groups have come up with ideas that will reduce demand on council services, but will also address existing and emerging issues across the borough, by providing new services for young people or making improvements to the environment.”

Cllr Morris added that the authority 'would love' to make more cash awards, especially to small voluntary and community groups which have ideas for improving their areas.

Moss Bank Community Sports Club was handed £50,000 to help set up its new community sports venture.

The money will see the club — which has been born out of the well-established Moss Bank Junior Football Club — take on the management of two council-owned playing fields on Church Road and Captains Clough, allowing them to apply for further funding to improve the maintenance of the pitches across what is thought to be a 25-year lease.

The sports club currently includes the football, cricket and rounders teams that play on Moss Bank and the money will be used to plan for other sports groups to come under the club umbrella and to increase youth participation with initiatives like a summer football scheme.

Gary Russell, chairman of the club, said the money provides a “fantastic platform” to build for the future and that managing its own pitches is a dream come true for the club.

He said: “It doesn’t get better than being in charge of your own destiny — it was always the vision of the club to be able to manage our own pitches and make our own money. We became aware of the scheme last year and worked really hard to make our case and we thank the council for all its support.”

The project will fill a gap for community sports provision in the area and reduce demand on the council’s maintenance of the facilities.

Mr Russell added: “We couldn’t have ever dreamed of an amount like this — it gives us an opportunity to do something really special with this club.”

Bolton Lads and Girls Club will use its £50,000 to develop a range of 'targeted and universal' youth services in the Westhoughton area.

The services will see local residents, community groups and private companies come together to provide youth services — once again saving the council cash in the long-term.

Chief executive Karen Edwards said: “We are thrilled to be supported with this fund and as a club are excited about expanding our offer in to the Westhoughton area.

“Our vision is to offer a seven day a week provision, fit for purpose that will include centre based activity, along with additional services that will meet the needs of young people in Westhoughton. We are looking forward to working with local organisations and residents, recruiting volunteers and engaging the local private sector”

Community group the Friends of Haslam Park will use a £50,000 payout to make the Rumworth area cleaner, greener and safer.

The group will use the cash to recruit a new volunteer co-ordinator to organise litter-picking, door-knocking and recycling education and will create a team of ambassadors who will teach local people about keeping the area green.

For further information on how to apply for the funding, visit