COMMUNITY interest company LymeForward is putting together a new business plan as it hopes to overcome potential funding cuts in the future.
LymeForward, founded with the aim of benefitting the local community, has previously received grants from Lyme Regis Town Council and the now-defunct West Dorset District Council, with the new Dorset Council continuing this funding commitment until March 2020.
However, the move to the new unitary authority has left a question mark over future funding streams for the community interest company. Future grants are not expected from Dorset Council and the town council may have to take on responsibility for additional assets and services, meaning it will have to cut its budget for grants to local organisations.
LymeForward also facilitates the Coastal Communities Team, which has previously been successful in applying for grants from the government’s Coastal Communities Fund for specific projects in Lyme Regis, Uplyme and Charmouth, but its latest bid was rejected.
Speaking at its partnership meeting last week, Ken Lavery, one of the directors of LymeForward, said: “We have put together a business plan now because we’re coming to the end of our funding cycle with both Lyme Regis Town Council and the new unitary Dorset Council, so we thought we’d take a moment simply to revise what the business of LymeForward going forward should be.
“Some of it is obviously blue sky thinking but there are certain elements which are not; one is simply for LymeForward to exist as a community interest company it has to generate an income, so one of our key elements of looking forward is funding some method of helping manager Chris Tipping, who has been excellent, in making bids for finance from elsewhere.
“We suspect the funding streams moving forward, certainly from Dorset Council, may cease to exist and again, we don’t want to pre-empt in any way what the town council may do with their grant process next year. We thought it was an opportune time to review what we’re doing, have a look at where we are and see what opportunities exist.”
Mr Lavery said that, despite the latest bid to the Coastal Communities Fund being unsuccessful, there were certain elements of this application that they still hoped to actively pursue.
The application included plans for new directional signage around Lyme Regis, Uplyme and Charmouth and developing an promoting walking routes; disabled access around Lyme Regis town and gardens; new seafront railings in Lyme; a demountable marquee for Theatre Square; new beach access in Charmouth; a riverside footpath to link east and west beaches in Charmouth and Visit Lyme promotional materials.
He added that it was difficult to find grants that would fund “back office function” and general running costs, rather than a specific projects, and they would be spending some time focussing on this issue in the future.
Mr Lavery said that one of the main elements of LymeForward’s work had been health and wellbeing, which had proved “taxing” in recent months with the amalgamation of the two medical practices in Lyme Regis.
He said that members recognised the need for this work to continue, along with LymeForward’s Care Links Lyme project, which provides access to all the voluntary health and wellbeing organisations in the area.
There was also a continuing need for other LymeForward initiatives, such as the food bank, and plans to set up a new Chamber of Commerce or similar group would be “beneficial to the community”.
Mr Lavery concluded: “We’re very active in what we are doing. The key issues are we have to obtain funding, because we have to assume that with cuts going forward we might not see the funding we have always had.”
For more details on the work of LymeForward, visit www.lymeforward.com