Hyndburn Council's Tory bosses have been accused of playing 'Britcliffe Bingo' with the allocation of grants to small local groups in the borough to win votes in May's local elections.

The allegation was made by Labour group deputy leader Cllr Noordad Aziz, as Wednesday's meeting of the authority's cabinet debated the awarding of grants to organisations from the special Community Chest Fund.

In all 52 grants totalling £80,000 were approved.

But the council's acting leader Cllr Peter Britcliffe revealed a special cabinet working group of himself and fellow Conservatve deputy leader Cllr Steven Smithson had changed the criteria for allocating the cash.

He told the meeting: "At its meeting of June 21, 2023, cabinet resolved to create a Community Chest budget of £80,000.

Lancashire Telegraph: Cllr Noordad Aziz said the awarding of grants was electioneeringCllr Noordad Aziz said the awarding of grants was electioneering

"At the time cabinet also set out its intention to allocate this fund on the basis of £5,000 for each of the borough’s 16 wards.

"The council received 88 applications with total bids in excess of £302,777.

"In light of the nature of the applications received, it is the view of the working group that the original intention to allocate the grant on the basis of £5,000 per ward is misguided.

"The reason this conclusion was reached is it is clear for the most part the organisations that made applications do not run on 'ward lines', and instead offer facilities and services to beneficiaries that are much more rooted in communities of interest.

"Put simply, the types of organisations that applied for funding – e.g. cricket and boxing clubs, drama clubs, the Hyndburn Green Spaces Forum, the Sea Cadets, Scout Groups etc - are open to residents across the borough, and do not define themselves in terms of the council’s electoral divisions."

Cllr Aziz and Labour group leader Cllr Munsif Dad objected to the change, and said the council should have stuck to the original ward-based grant system.

Cllr Aziz said groups in his Netherton ward had applied for £19,037 in grants and got just £1,900.

He said: "Are Labour wards being punished? This is 'Britcliffe Bingo'. It is blatant electioneering."

Cllr Dad highlighted the case of Fern Gore Residents' Association, which applied for £2,500 for CCTV and was awarded £1,000, asking where it was expected to get the £1,500 shortfall from.

He added: "Each ward was promised £5,000 but my Spring Hill ward only got £2,000."

Cllr Britcliffe denied the allegation and borough Levelling Up boss Cllr Mohammed Younis said many small organisations across the borough would be "delighted" with the much-needed cash grants.

Huncoat Labour Cllr Dave Parkins attended the meeting to thank the working group for allocating Huncoat Community Forum £3,000 for its website.