Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Councillor Dickinson said‘It’s clear that UKIP want to have their cake and eat it. What they are demanding would mean residents of my ward subsidising Blyth and I don’t think that’s fair or workable’

STORM AS UKIP CALL FOR SECTION 106 CASH TO BE SPENT IN BLYTH ONLY
Controversial call by UKIP to spend development cash in Blyth only brings fears that other areas would be starved
A UKIP Councillor on Blyth Town Council has come under fire for his controversial call for all section 106 money received by Northumberland County Council to be spent in Blyth only.
UKIP Town Councillor Barry Elliott who is a local property developer, made the call in various postings on his Facebook site and during a recent meeting of Blyth Town Council. Now he faces calls to explain whether that would mean other town council’s and wards across Northumberland being starved of monies ‘to pay for his promise to Blyth’.
UKIP in Blyth have called for section 106 development monies which are paid by developers as a contribution towards community infrastructure to be spent ‘only in Blyth’. Northumberland County Council, as the planning authority holds the receipts from developers in a central pot which have a combined value of nearly £10m since the formation of the unitary authority in 2008. Some of the combined value has not yet been collected because the agreements have not been triggered with only £4m spent to date. Under Section 106 agreement the pool has allocated around £6,000 per ward.

Now Labour councillors are challenging UKIP in Blyth asking ‘if you want to spend all section 106 monies in Blyth what about other communities across Northumberland?’.
Labour Councillor Scott Dickinson who represents rural Druridge Bay ward has joined forces with his Labour colleague Allan Hepple, whose portfolio area covers section 106 agreements, to demand UKIP come clean on their policy which would see all cash spent on 0.2% of the county population.

Councillor Dickinson said
‘It’s clear that UKIP want to have their cake and eat it. What they are demanding would mean residents of my ward subsidising Blyth and I don’t think that’s fair or workable’

Councillor Hepple who represents Cramlington said
‘I’m calling on UKIP to come clean about this stealth policy which would see money sucked from every part of Northumberland to fund vanity projects like a Blyth ‘football stadium. Every community gets a fair share from section 106 monies and UKIP’s plan would be unfair and unworkable. It’s clear that UKIP in Blyth are making promises they can’t keep’.
END
NOTES
• Section 106 agreements (planning obligations) are legally binding obligations between local authorities and developers linked to a planning permission and attached to a piece of land.
• The completed legal agreement is registered as a local land charge against that specific piece of land.
• Planning obligations are a mechanism which can make a development proposal acceptable in planning terms that would not otherwise be acceptable.
• Northumberland County Council have recently undertaken a review by Internal Audit on its Section 106 policy which was instigated after a complaint by UKIP Councillor Barry Elliott to the council’s external auditor. That review highlighted;
• Of the 602 Agreements on the Monitoring Spreadsheet, 426 were financial with a combined value of £9,864,322
• Of this amount the review identified that £4,098,108 had become collectable due to triggers having been met
• Of this amount the review identified that only £30,440 (0.7%) had been lost due to errors by the Council.
• The bulk of this (£25,000) related to a legal agreement on a 2007 planning application where the invoice had been raised after the development had started and the developer refused to pay.

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