DRAMATIC lighting, heritage projects and a skate park were among the projects receiving taxpayers’ cash in Colchester.

Borough councillors are given £2,000 each to spend on improving their areas.

But they have been urged to find worthy causes earlier in the year after a report reveals a splurge of last-minute spending.

A report reveals about 70 applications totalling £42,800 were made in February - perilously close to the end of the financial year - compared to a similar number over the previous 10 months.

A report to councillors advises: “Last minute spend often leads to having to make quick decisions that may not provide the best opportunities for communities so as part of the planning, agree to get spend requests in well before thedeadline date.”

The report will be presented to the council’s scrutiny panel tonight showing how councillors have spent the money in the last financial year.

There was a total unspent figure of £9,508.23 for 2017/18.

A total of 17 councillors did not spend all their budget.

For next year a number of changes have been suggested, including transferring to online applications, avoiding “last minute rush spending” and increasing the minimum spend from £50 to £100.

These changes will be looked at during the meeting tonight.

So, who spent their money on what?

There are six zones across the borough and each has been analysed.

- Zone 1 Marks Tey and Layer, Mersea and Pyefleet, and Tiptree: Zone 1 contributed the most funding to town and parish councils compared to other zones. Additional security such as CCTV and fencing also benefitted from the funding;

- Zone 2 Castle: Heritage projects, such as lighting up the Jumbo water tower and the John Worland memorial to victims of the Witchfinder trials featured heavily along with supporting the running costs of homeless charities;

- Zone 3 Highwoods, Mile End, St Anne’s and St John’s: Zone 3 concentrated largely on supporting open space projects and schools;

- Zone 4 Lexden and Braiswick, Rural North and Stanway: Parish councils were supported and projects included a lot of facility repairs and equipment for groups;

- Zone 5 Berechurch, New Town and Christchurch, Prettygate and Shrub End: Contributions served various community groups and facilities, along with improvements to outside space and the running costs of organisations such as Beacon House which supports the homeless;

- Zone 6 Greenstead, Old Heath & Hythe and Wivenhoe: Community groups were supported with all councillors contributing to an array of groups, to help with supplying equipment and running costs, to projects such a new floodlight at Wivenhoe FC and renewing the skate park.