Councils still sitting on war chest of £560k

SPEND IT WISELY: Sudbury mayor Adrian Osborne has said councils must 'use or lose' section 106 money.
SPEND IT WISELY: Sudbury mayor Adrian Osborne has said councils must 'use or lose' section 106 money.
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Half of a £1.2million treasure chest earmarked for community projects remains unspent, according to latest figures.

The money – paid by developers to councils to offset the impact of large-scale builds – can be spent on a host of community projects, including play areas, skate parks and playing fields.

But a report by Babergh District Council shows that £560,000, which has been released to town and parish councils in the area, is still waiting to be spent. Councils have 10 years to use the money, or must return it to the developer.

According to the figures, Great Cornard Parish Council has the largest amount left to spend, with £71,716 still unallocated.

“There are lots of improvements we want to make, but we have to make sure the money is spent on what it was raised for,” said district councillor Peter Beer.

He said a key objective was securing a railway halt in the village, for which £100,000 has been offered through planning agreements. Network Rail says a halt is not an option.

“We want to pursue this to save people travelling into Sudbury and Bures,” said Mr Beer. “It is ridiculous for Network Rail to claim we could not have a three-minute stop.”

Glemsford Parish Council is sitting on £33,409, having paid out £51,446 on approved projects, including two new play areas in Schoolfield and Kings Road.

“We have one or two projects in mind and have been talking about the money,” said council chairman Michael Brown.

“There is plenty of time at the moment and we will make sure it is spent on the right things.”

Despite the risk of funds having to be returned if not used, this has only happened when proposed developments have not gone ahead.

Hadleigh mayor Brain Lazenby said council members would not be rushed into spending its remaining £15,568, having been handed a total of £134,115.

“There is plenty of demand to be able to dispose of this money and we are discussing options,” he said.

The district council’s joint scrutiny committee met yesterday to review the management and monitoring of section 106 agreements.