7th Jul, 2020

Communities urged to bid for HS2 cash despite criticism - after Balsall Common grant

THE Balsall and Berkswell Jubilee Project group has been granted over £5,000 by HS2’s Community and Environment Fund (CEF) to make improvements to the Jubilee Centre.

And other community groups are being urged to submit bids.

The funding will cover a new, more energy efficient boiler, acoustic panels and new notice boards at the centre in Station Road, Balsall Common.

The funding scheme has been criticised by campaigners against the high speed rail project HS2 as little more than a sop to communities that will be demonstrably harmed by the scheme, with little of the benefits.

But the funding for the Balsall Common centre has been highlighted in a press release by Conservative-controlled Solihull Council.

While the borough stands to benefit from the new HS2 interchange station near the NEC and planned development around it, there has been local opposition in Balsall Common, including over traffic disruption from preparatory infrastructure works.

The Balsall and Berkswell Jubilee Project provides recreational and educational activities for the local community with an emphasis on the wellbeing of children, young people and the elderly.

The Jubilee Centre can be hired by organisations and individuals from the local community, for events such as exercise and dance classes, children’s parties and meetings.

Solihull Councillor Tony Dicicco, ward member for Meriden, welcomed the CEF funding, saying: ““The Jubilee Centre’s success brings the total awarded by HS2’s Community and Environment Fund in Solihull to £144,794. The funds are for local communities affected by the development of the railway. I urge local groups to submit applications as the fund is still open.”

Sue White, chair of the Balsall and Berkswell Jubilee Project Board of Trustees, said: “We were really pleased to be successful in securing £5,971 of CEF cash as it will make all the difference to the Jubilee. Not only can we get better soundproofing when we host film nights and similar events but we can now also install a more energy efficient boiler and new external notice boards.

“I agree with Councillor Dicicco, get those bids in while the fund is still open and handing out cash to community groups up and down the railway line.”

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