GRIP’s future questioned amid funding plans

Questions over the effectiveness of the Greater Ripon Improvement Partnership (GRIP) were raised at the city council meeting on Monday.
Questions over the effectiveness of the Greater Ripon Improvement Partnership (GRIP) were raised at the city council meeting on Monday.

The future of the Greater Ripon Improvement Partnership (GRIP) is in doubt after concerns were raised about its funding and effectiveness at Monday’s city council meeting.

The city council allocated half of its grant money for the financial year to GRIP, with £5,000 earmarked for the group in next year’s budget.

But Coun Andrew Williams (Ind) has branded GRIP a “waste of public money” after revealing a resignation letter from the chairman of the Chamber of Trade.

In the letter sent to the Mayor of Ripon, Coun Mick Stanley (Con) on Wednesday, June 4, David Elsy said that he felt his time was “better spent on projects away from GRIP”.

He said: “It is the opinion of the Chamber that GRIP is currently working, perhaps inadvertently as a ‘brake’ on progress and whilst we sit on the GRIP board we are implicated.

“Ripon Chamber does not see the need for a limited liability company or a charitable trust to fulfil what should be done by any competent parish council.

“Indeed you yourself have often advocated that GRIP would be unnecessary with an efficient Ripon City Council.”

Coun Williams asked the Mayor why he did not bring the letter to the council’s attention on July 14 when members allocated GRIP nearly half the grant money available.

He also asked why a letter giving financial clarification of GRIP’s intentions came from Coun Stanley as it was “like asking the right hand to lend the left hand money”.

Speaking after the meeting, Coun Stanley defended GRIP’s effectiveness, as well as his position as chairman of the group. He said: “I was asked to be chairman by the GRIP board and there is absolutely no reason why I should not be. GRIP is incredibly effective as it brings a lot of money into the city. It can do things that the city council can’t do and will continue to make a difference and make the city a better place to live.

“That letter was sentsix months ago and GRIP has moved on since those days so the Independents are living in the past.”

However, Coun Alan Skidmore (Con), chairman of the Finance and General Purposes Committee, said that the council “can’t support” GRIP if they and the Chamber of Trade cannnot work together.

He said: “You need to sing off one hymn sheet to get funding. I have been working with David since that letter and they do not wish to see GRIP disappear.

“It’s currently in the budget that they (GRIP) have a grant of £5,000 and if they can bring their differences together there is no reason they should not get a grant.

“If they can’t come to an agreement and arrange how to come forward then I will have a hard decision to make.”