Thousands in council cash for Chingford area spent ‘outside the ward’

An Endlebury resident accused his councillors of funnelling hyper-local council funding to other areas

By Josh Mellor, Local Democracy Reporter

Trevor Calver outside Mornington Hall, a building in Chingford Green that has received thousands of pounds of funding for Endlebury (credit: LDRS)

A Chingford man has criticised his local councillors, alleging thousands in council funds intended for his neighbourhood was spent elsewhere.

Each year, every ward in Waltham Forest can apply for up to £10,000 in “community ward funding”, with ward councillors choosing between local projects nominated by residents.

The money can be used to pay for little things like a street party or a new noticeboard to larger projects like the East London Shakespeare Festival or supporting a new food bank.

However, in the Endlebury ward of Chingford, resident Trevor Calver says his councillors – Roy Berg and Conservative group leader Emma Best – have poured thousands into projects in other areas over the last eight years.

After submitting a Freedom of Information request, seen by the LDRS, he discovered that almost £6,000 of Endlebury ward funding was spent on improvements for Mornington Hall, located in the neighbouring ward of Chingford Green, since 2014.

In 2021, Chingford Green ward was awarded £2,214 for new lighting and minor electrical repairs at the hall in Queen’s Walk, while Endlebury received £3,214 for the exact same projects.

In the 2018/2019 financial year, Endlebury ward received £1,500 to replace double glazing at Wingrove Hall, a building located in Highams Park near the North Circular. 

Trevor told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “Year after year, money is spent on things outside the ward and we’re not told about it. It’s farcical[…] there are no checks.”

In addition to projects outside the ward, Trevor complained that many improvements benefited organisations that Cllr Roy Berg is directly involved in.

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Retired RAF police officer Cllr Berg is a trustee of Waltham Forest Sea Cadets, which has received £3,500 for new facilities and furniture since 2015. In 2019, £700 went towards carriages for the Chingford & District Model Engineering Club in Ridgeway Park, an organisation which Cllr Berg chairs.

When contacted, Cllr Best, speaking for both herself and Cllr Berg, did not respond to a question about why funding for Endlebury was spent elsewhere.

However, responding to Trevor’s suggestion that Cllr Berg made “biased” decisions to benefit his preferred projects, she said: “The nature of being a local councillor means many Waltham Forest councillors will be involved in volunteering for good causes within their local area and, as such, this is not an uncommon occurrence.”

She insisted councillors are not involved in decisions to award funding to organisations they are involved with, adding: “I’m proud of the amazing projects we’ve managed to fund in Endlebury, look forward to supporting more in the upcoming funding round and so, once again, urge residents to apply.”

When contacted for comment, a council spokesperson was unable to confirm whether there is any oversight of how councillors allocate ward funding but told the LDRS they are “required to follow guidance”.

Earlier this month, the council announced it would be handing out £110,000 in community ward funding across the borough for the latest round of successful applications.

At the time, cabinet member for public services Paul Douglas said community ward funding helps “hyper-local projects”. He added: “Whether it’s encouraging people to grow their own healthy food, promoting sports or community activities, or ensuring school pupils start the day with a high-quality nutritious breakfast, each one of these initiatives provides a huge benefit for the community.”

For more information about how to apply for ward funding, visit the council’s website here.

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