Council's £18m section 106 money yet to be used
2:44pm Wednesday 8th January 2014 in By Mike Benke, @Michael_Benke
IT HAS been revealed that Swindon Council has £18m of unallocated funds from building developers, the largest of any local authority.
The BBC sent Freedom Of Information Requests to all local authorities to find out how much section 106 money has not been used.
Criticism has been aimed at council leaders for not using the cash but they say it is normal practice to have the cash.
Section 106 is a fund which is negotiated between developers and the council whenever a large development is carried out.
Examples of its use can be seen in plans to redevelop the Locarno and the Arts Centre, as well as the building of a new primary school at Tadpole Farm.
The money can be used towards projects to help improve the community such as roads, community halls and play areas.
The Swindon Council money is currently in an account earning interest.
There are limits on what it can be used for and much of the funding has a time limit, so if it is not spent in a set period of time then it is returned to the developer.
In 2011, complications surrounding a section 106 agreement in North Swindon cost the area £4m which was due to be spent on building a road linking Haydon Wick with the town centre.
Concerns have been raised that there is a risk this money could also be lost to the town.
“There is a shortage of school spaces and heavy congestion on the roads around North Swindon when there is money available which is not being used.
“I think we need a full review into how section 106 money is managed so we can make sure the people of Swindon receive the full benefit of the funds so it is not lost again.”
However, Coun Dale Heenan (Con, Covingham and Dorcan), the Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Sustainability said: “There is absolutely no risk of us losing any of the money. “It is perfectly normal for us to have a certain amount waiting for use. The best analogy is a deposit. We receive an amount and when it is ready for use we get the rest.
“There are a lot of developments going on in Swindon at the moment, so it is going to be higher.
“There were 635 houses built last year and we get between £10-£15,000 per house.
“Coun Dempsey should know better and is simply confusing the public and making the council’s job harder.”
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