OPPOSITION councillors claim a Conservative-backed Golden Jubilee Fund for projects and a Clitheroe Castle grounds scheme lack key details around procedures and costs.

Proposals to mark the borough’s 50th anniversary since creation in 1974 were highlighted as part of Ribble Valley budget plans for the year ahead.

Ruling Tories urged all political groups to put forward jubilee fund ideas worthy of cash support.

But the jubilee fund has been described by Green Party Cllr Malcolm Peplow as a ‘tombola’.

Now Labour Cllr Lee Jameson and Progressive-Liberal Cllr Stewart Fletcher have criticised an alleged lack of details.

In a joint statement, opposition groups said borough leader Cllr Stephen Atkinson had last month criticised alternative budget ideas, describing them as lacking costings and being submitted late.

But now Cllrs Jameson and Fletcher say a senior official has confirmed no officer’s report existed describing the scope of works and costings for the £500,000 castle grounds project.  And no agreed procedures for bids for the £1m Golden Jubilee Fund had been drawn up.

Cllrs Jameson and Fletcher said:  “Council spending is extremely tight now. It is important that any funds available to spend should be distributed fairly and as economically as possible.

“We are sure all councillors want to do their best for people and businesses in the borough. But for this to become a reality, we need clear guidance and detailed planning.

Cllr Atkinson and his deputy, Cllr Simon Hore confirmed the £1m Golden Jubilee Fund was for "one-off legacy projects and £500,000 had been allocated to improve the castle grounds.

And they added: "In line with existing procedures, all 40 borough councillors will have the opportunity to submit ideas that will be discussed in the all-party Budget Working Group.

"The group will then ask officers to develop ideas and submit fully-costed projects that can be discussed in detail, with its recommendations submitted to the policy and finance committee for final approval.

"This ensures all councillors can be involved in the process and realistic, one-off legacy projects are agreed, avoiding ongoing revenue financial commitments to the council."

The pair criticised the Labour, Green and Progressive Liberal opposition's "late submission" requesting the budget be allocated to more than 12 different projects - and proposing a reduction in the castle grounds spending,

The councillors also said: "This innovative and unprecedented budget allocation is excellent news for councillors and our communities.

"It enables everyone to share in the borough’s 50th anniversary celebration. This, at a time when many authorities are facing the stark reality of bankruptcy, is a powerful recognition of the careful Conservative stewardship of the borough’s finances over recent decades which marks out the Ribble Valley in Lancashire.

“We look forward to implementing schemes and call upon all members across the council to engage with this process, to provide a lasting legacy for the borough and all its residents.”