City Matters column with Alan Weston

Perhaps it is the time of the year, post budget and towards the end of the financial year for public sector bodies, but funding seems to be the topic of the month.

Elsewhere within these pages the City Plan team have written about funding and it is a topic that I want to cover too.

After years of funding cuts all public sector bodies have increasingly difficult choices to make about where to invest their resources.

As a city development team we always strive to maximise the impact of any spending, and we are always looking at how we can attract more funding in order to deliver more projects and activities.

That is why in the year ahead one of our priorities will be looking at offering more advertising opportunities, sponsorship packages, working in conjunction with other organisations to raise funds as well as exploring grant funding opportunities to deliver new projects.

Unfortunately, as a public sector organisation there are many grants which we are not eligible to apply for and over the years, in this age of austerity, many traditional sources of funding have been reduced or withdrawn.

One of the reasons for proposing the establishment of the Ripon Community Interest Company (Ripon C.I.C.) was to move away from these traditional grants and look for new opportunities.

More importantly, over time, the C.I.C. will try to create sustainable sources of funding, finding ways of earning money to reinvest in the community.

As a social enterprise, the Ripon C.I.C. is a business and so can access different types of grants and funding.

Recently an opportunity was identified courtesy of the Harrogate and Ripon CVS Newsletter, and a grant application submitted for just under £2,000 to implement a project enabling environmental improvements to be made in the city.

The outcome of this is currently awaited, but if successful it will provide an opportunity for the community to get involved.

Hopefully I’ll be able to tell you more about this soon.

The Ripon Community Interest Company was also created to provide an opportunity for the various sectors in Ripon to work together to improve the city.

The upcoming Tour de Yorkshire is an example of this in practice.

The directors and the sectors/organisations they represent are working together to ensure that Ripon puts on the best event it can and attracts as many visitors as possible.

As a result of this collaboration the organisation has also been able to attract sponsorship to support the costs of the event.

In addition, working with Harrogate Borough Council, agreement has been reached to provide a big screen for the Tour de Yorkshire Market Place spectator hub to enable spectators to watch the rest of the race.

While there may generally have been a reduction in the amount of grant funding available, there are always new opportunities too.

The creation of a grant funding scheme to support activities in the Harrogate District during the Tour de Yorkshire is welcome, and an application has been submitted to further enhance our plans for the day.

As the only city to be visited by the Tour de Yorkshire on day two we want to showcase the city in the best possible way and attracting additional funding will help us to achieve that.

Looking ahead there are a number of projects currently being developed both by the Ripon C.I.C. and by the City Development Team.

Having a number of good quality, small and large projects that are fully developed and virtually ready to go is essential. Funding opportunities will always present themselves and being in a position to secure the money and deliver the project is an essential part of development aspirations for the city.