A FINANCIAL windfall will be music to the ears of youngsters who can look forward to enjoying new facilities at a village hub – thanks to cash seized from criminals.
Penyffordd and Penymynydd War Memorial Institute has served the community for almost 100 years and the venue on Chester Road, Penyffordd, is used by scores of young musicians and musical groups for rehearsing, learning to play and recording.
Demand has outstripped supply due to a lack of rooms and time slots, while there have also been issues with sound carrying while other groups are using the venue.
But thanks to a £2,500 grant from a special fund distributed by North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, the institute can start to tune up for the opening of a new music room that will help resolve these issues.
The project will eventually see the adjacent large brick garage converted into a music room, with the funding boost enabling the first phase to go ahead with the purchase of a secure store for the equipment currently in the garage.
The cash comes from the Your Community, Your Choice scheme which is supported by the North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT).
It is the eighth year of the awards scheme and much of over £280,000 handed out to deserving causes in that time has been recovered through the Proceeds of Crime Act, using cash seized from offenders with the rest coming from the Police and Crime Commissioner.
The scheme is aimed at organisations who pledge to run projects to tackle anti-social behaviour and combat crime and disorder in line with the priorities in Commissioner Arfon Jones’s Police and Crime Plan.
This year there are 21 grants given to support schemes by community organisations, with an online vote deciding the successful applicants from among the many projects submitted and over 22,000 votes cast.
The Institute was one of the three successful applicants from Flintshire with Deeside TaeKwonDo, whose students are aged from three upwards, netting £2,500 for new training equipment while Castell Alun Colts Football Club have been awarded £1,525 for an activity weekend, professional coaching and equipment.
Stuart Guy, treasurer and trustee of the Penyffordd and Penmynydd Institute, said: “This will be the essential first stage of the project and means we can secure the equipment to allow us to focus on turning the garage into a music room.
“The music room will be a really positive addition to the community. It will offer physical separation and acoustic isolation from the main building and mean we can provide for more musicians.
“We have a lot of children who use our facilities and we hope they will continue to do so. But we will also be looking to encourage a broader participation in musical activities, welcoming people of all ages and abilities.”
The equipment stored in the garage includes items used for annual activities such as the carnival and Bonfire Night celebrations which will soon be housed in a 20ft container.
The cash boost is a welcome tonic after a difficult 12 months for the venue, with numerous activities put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This really is fantastic news. It was a public vote and we are delighted that we have been successful,” said Stuart.
“There is a lot of demand from groups to use the institute. Prior to Covid we were 100 per cent booked at evenings and weekends and it really is at the heart of the community.”
The institute was built in 1922, serving as a memorial to villagers killed in the First World War.
As well as being a popular venue for musicians, the institute is used by numerous community groups such as the Women’s Institute and for activities including ballroom dancing.
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones said: “I am delighted that my Your Community Your Choice fund continues to support community projects across North Wales for an eighth consecutive year.
“This unique fund allows our communities to decide which projects should get financial support through our on-line voting system and the response has seen almost 15,000 members of the public vote for a total of 30 projects.
“These projects help to support my Police and Crime Plan whose purpose is to ensure that North Wales Police is paying specific attention to those points which have been identified as crucial by the public, me and indeed by the force itself.
“Many of you will be aware of the recent Third Sector consultation that I carried out which has resulted in an update to my priorities to include the ways in which we address emerging trends including Organised Crime and the exploitation of vulnerable people.
“As part of this I aim to ensure that a clear focus continues around county lines crimes – a particularly vicious form of criminality that exploits young vulnerable people into a life of crime which is extremely dangerous and violent and from which there is little escape.
“I am delighted to see that a number of your applications aim to address this issue and support our young people.
“Community groups are vital to the citizens of north Wales, and in helping to ensure that our communities continue to be some of the safest places to live, work and visit in the UK.”
PACT chairman Ashley Rogers added: “Your community your choice is a really valuable way of supporting communities and putting the choice of which projects are supported in their hands.
“It’s a very democratic process which is why I think it’s been such a long running and successful scheme.
“It’s lovely project to be involved with and you can directly see the benefits from the funding in strengthening our resilient communities.”
Assistant Chief Constable Sacha Hatchett said: “This money includes cash from assets seized from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act. This is a particularly vital message as through the professionalism of North Wales Police Officers and with the support of the Courts, we are able to hit the criminals where it hurts – in their pockets.
“Our operations target all types of serious criminality including cross border crime, armed robbery, criminal use of firearms as well as drug production, importation and supply.
“Those who are involved in serious and organised crime often live well beyond their means, drive expensive cars, live in large houses and frequently holiday abroad; they may well be living lifestyles on the proceeds of crime.
“Our communities continue to play a part in this success with local intelligence information given to our officers that help us to bring these criminals to justice.
“It sends a really positive message that money taken from the pockets of criminals is being recycled. This is turning bad money into good that’s being used for a constructive purpose.”
For more information on the work of the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner go to https://www.northwales-pcc.gov.uk/en/home.aspx