Grants on offer to celebrate town's 'real community spirit'

COMMUNITY groups have been urged to apply for council grants of up to £500 as part of a new drive unveiled yesterday by Doncaster's elected mayor Peter Davies.

Mr Davies scrapped funding for what he called "minority events" at the end of August, but said he had no intention of offending or isolating any one group in particular.

Doncaster Council had funded events including Black History Month, Gipsy and Roma Traveller Month, Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Awareness Day and Human Rights Day.

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The mayor was roundly criticised after the decision to remove funding for these events was announced, but he claimed that his views had been misrepresented.

Yesterday, Mr Davies said he wanted the wider community to benefit from council cash and added: "Every resident in Doncaster belongs to one community and we all need to focus on delivering this common aim irrespective of our background.

"In order to push us forward I have launched a new project that focuses on myth-busting, integration and community cohesion. I have absolutely no problem with events such as Gay Pride or Black History Month taking place in Doncaster.

"I do, however, believe that council taxpayers' money should be spent on essential front-line services in Doncaster, particularly given the difficult economic times ahead. This decision was carefully considered and debated at a cabinet meeting.

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"In order to address any misconceptions, I have been meeting with many minority communities so they can discuss their views openly, as is their right as Doncaster citizens, and have a better understanding of what I am trying to achieve for all the people of Doncaster.

"I would like to see activities where communities are interacting with each other, leaving their differences aside and celebrating real Doncaster community spirit."

The Doncaster Council community funding project will only be available until March 2011 and includes a specific set of criteria which must be met before the money is given out.

For more information about the community cohesion funding and how to apply contact the council on 01302 736927 or email [email protected]