Bedford council has £400k to spend on helping community buildings upgrade

It’s hoped more schools will get in touch

By John Guinn, Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 11th May 2022, 10:35 am

Various energy upgrades could be available to Bedford borough community buildings, charities and schools thanks to the Mayor's Climate Change Fund, a meeting heard.

Paul Pace, chief officer environment, gave the Climate Change Committee (Monday, May 9) a brief update on the fund.

This fund offers grants up to £20,000 (on a 50:50 funding basis) to help community buildings to reduce running costs and the building’s carbon emissions.

The council is hoping more schools will take up the scheme

"Various different upgrades could be available to the community, community buildings, charities, and schools," Mr Pace said.

"So far we’ve funded £82,000 worth of projects, and we've still got just over £400,000 left to spend.

"We've had 62 people showing interest, and a number of them have had EPCs, which is the starting point."

Energy performance certificates (EPC) are a rating scheme to summarise the energy efficiency of buildings.

Mr Pace explained that when getting an EPC a consultant will review a building’s heating and energy performance, and will suggest some changes to reduce bills and emissions.

"We're hopeful that some of these EPCs will come into fruition soon. At the moment, we've had seven climate change projects go through," he said.

Mr Pace's presentation showed that Bedford Road Primary School will receive £10,900 to replace 19 single glazed windows with PVCU windows.

The committee was told this project is estimated to save over £2,400 (at current gas prices) a year.

Councillor Lucy Bywater (Green, Castle Ward) said: "I imagine it's because of funding, but why aren’t more schools taking it up.

"What was the impetus for [Bedford Road] do we know?

"It would be really good if they could talk to other schools as well because schools have massive bills and we've got a lot of really old draughty schools."

Bedford mayor, Dave Hodgson, butted in: "We've got some old draughty schools, we've got quite a few modern schools as well, councillor Bywater."

Councillor Bywater added: "We've got both, but we’ve still got those beautiful old Victorian buildings which have really huge bills, and which they could usefully reduce, I imagine."

The mayor said he would ask the officers in the Bedford Borough Learning Exchange to talk to head teachers.

"Maybe Paul, or one of the schools that has had some work done, do a pitch as well," he added.

The mayor also suggested that councillors mention the fund when they talk to charities

"Often if you can mention [how to] save them money and reduce carbon, they might be able to find some funders.

"People like funding projects they can understand.

"There is obviously investment, we can't bring the whole lot," he added.

Mr Pace added that there's a "wealth of information" and case studies on the council's website.

"If you don’t want to explain it too much, just divert the schools to our website and search for our climate change fund," he told the members.

"If they're needing any other information then either myself or Gemma [Drake] at the other end of a phone or email.

"Just plug it wherever you can, really," he said.