Bolton’s local area forums meetings have been stalled since before the pandemic despite appearing to have thousands of pounds in their respective pots.

Before the pandemic forced the country into a series of lockdowns, area forum meetings were held in each ward to discuss how yearly funding could be spent.

However, the forums have not met publicly in this way since before the first lockdown occurred in March 2020, yet the areas forums websites suggest that that money is still there, seemingly untouched.

The most up-to-date budgetary information on the Farnworth Area Forum website taken from the most recent meeting on October 10, 2019, shows that there was a remaining balance of £2,749 in the pot for 2019/20, and a further £15,000 that was earmarked for the following year.

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The council says that despite this information budget information not being updated on its website, the money has not disappeared.

Instead, it has been left in the hands of councillors to best decide where it would be most useful.

Cllr Paul Sanders, who represents Farnworth, says that a number of projects have been completed with the money since 2019.

These include, among others, a number of fly tip removals, fixing a First World War "Tommy" silhouette soldier after it was vandalised, purchasing a PA system for civic events such as the Remembrance Sunday service, and the 2019 and 2021 Christmas lights and events.

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Currently in Farnworth, there remains a pot of around £5,000 from the 2020/21 budget, as well as the full £15,000 that was allocated in 2021/22.

Cllr Sanders said: “If residents or local groups have any suggestions for community opportunities and place betterment, please get in touch with Farnworth Area Forum.”

The system for how this money is spent is currently under review, with the reworked model to be called the Community Alliance. More information will be forthcoming soon.

A spokesperson for the council said: “Earlier this year, we consulted with residents about changing the way the council works with local communities.

“This new ‘Community Alliance’ system will give residents more say over what happens in their area, using local assets and skills to make the changes they want to see.

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“Based on this feedback we will be announcing more details in the coming months.”

There is also funding for project available from Bolton CVS and the Bolton Fund.

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