NEARLY £200,000 of funding has been ploughed into community projects across Basildon.

Veolia North Thames Trust has given Essex Wildlife Trust £100,000 to create a new footpath, protect trees and pay for new visitor information boards at Langdon Hills Nature Reserve.

Westlake Park, in Bowers Gifford, is also set to benefit from £44,000 of improvements and £6,600 has been given to Billericay Bowls Club for a new kitchen.

Trinity Methodist Church, in Clay Hill Road, Vange, was awarded £32,885 to improve its youth hall, used for sports, craft sessions and parents and toddler groups.

Charlie Oliver, from Essex Wildlife Trust, said the Veolia grant would also be used to fund a chainsaw mill. This will allow the trust to produce its own wood products from Langdon Hills Nature Reserve.

The main bulk of the grant will pay for the new footpath, which is designed to ensure the sprawling site can be visited come rain or shine. Mr Oliver said: “The pathway will provide year-round, all- weather access for visitors, including for pushchairs and wheelchair users.

“The route will be signposted and there will be benches at regular intervals for those with reduced mobility.

“We will also be putting in new information boards, significantly improving the visitor experience at the 468-acre site, which has more than 20 miles of pathway to walk or cycle.

“The new boards will be educational and informative, displaying maps, historical and species information.”

Work on the new kitchen at Billericay Bowls Club, based at LakeMeadows park, has already finished.

Rex Hobbs, club secretary, said: “The old kitchen was so small that once you had two people in it, that was it.

“We’ve put in a bigger one, which means we can provide refreshments. It’s much better for our members and has really improved facilities at the club.”

Veolia North Thames Trust has handed out £40.4milllion in funding to local projects over the past 16 years.

Doug Benjafield, chair of the trust, said: "The number of applications we receive from local organisations is on the increase and it is very important we continue to support these projects that make such a contribution to our communities.”

TWO community groups in Wickford are celebrating getting a cash boost from Basildon Council.

Stuart Sullivan, councillor responsible for resources, gave the go-ahead to grant applications from the Wick Community Association and the newly-formed Wickford Community Projects.

Veolia matched £6,000 of funding given to the the Wick Community Aossociation to build a sound-proofed wall divide in the main hall of the community centre, in Silva Island Way.

Lynne Brooker, secretary of the association, said: “We haven’t been able to use the curtains in the hall for five years, and it doesn’t look good at all.

“We’ve had to turn away a lot of groups and bookings in the past, but now the hall can be used as two seperate rooms, which is brilliant.”

Wickford Community Projects has been given £3,000 to continue running its community cafe, in Wickford Memorial Park.

David Harrison, Ukip councillor for Wickford Park, said: “I am absolutely delighted the council is able to help both projects.”