CHANGES have been demanded in the way £1 million of council funds is handed out via local councillors.

Ward funding was reintroduced in York when the joint Conservative and Lib Dem administration took over in 2015, giving ward committees and local councillors money to spend on projects in their areas.

Last week Cllr Tina Funnell, who led a scrutiny team looking in to the programme, said: “Councillors recognise the potential benefits of having funds to spend locally, but the structures are hard to navigate.

“There are some real concerns about how we can ensure this money is well spent and that we are doing it in the most effective way, despite the goodwill to try and make it work.”

The money available in 2016/17 - including carried over funds - varies from £13,670 for Fulford and Heslington, to £108,000 in Micklegate. Figures show although some areas have plans for all their money, others like Hull Road had allocated less than a fifth by January this year.

Cllr Funnell was speaking at a meeting of the city council executive on Thursday, and she said the funding system puts significant responsibility on councillors to make sure the money is spent well, with some were doing better than others.

The scrutiny team asked people involved what they thought of the scheme, and heard from one senior voluntary sector worker who said allocating significant sums through a system not all members bought into was “a perfect storm”.

However Cllr Keith Aspden, the Lib Dem group leader who championed the project, said ward funding was “incredibly important”, and had resulted on projects on everything from environmental work to social isolation.

The scrutiny team’s report came up with eight recommendations to improve the system, including mandatory training for councillors, ways of sharing best practice, and more staff time available to support.

The executive accepted some of recommendations, but refused the make the training mandatory and said individual councillors could decide to spend some of their funds on extra support.