New Homes Bonus petition – Cllr Anne Turrell’s response

I’ve been working with people from across the Mile End and Braiswick community to petition Colchester Borough Council about the New Homes Bonus.

With 3,000 homes set to be built in our area over the coming years, the Council will receive millions of pounds as a direct result of the development in our area – development that few of us wanted.

The petition asks the Council to consult Mile End and Braiswick residents on how some of that money will be spent, hopefully allowing us to suggest ways it can be used to improve facilities, infrastructure and quality of life for people in our community.

This is a record of the correspondence I have had with Mile End councillor and Colchester Borough Council Leader Anne Turrell. I won’t comment on it at this stage, but simply put it here for information.

My personal view is that some other councils have had the good sense to put this money into communities affected by development. I would love our council to do the same – and for grassroots voices to be heard. If you agree, please sign this petition: www.givemileendasay.org.uk

1. Ben Locker to Mile End councillors Anne Turrell and Martin Goss (2 April 2014)

Dear Cllrs Turrell and Goss,

I am writing regarding the New Homes Bonus petition article in today’s Gazette. 

Given that our area is going to have many thousands of houses built on it, I think it fair that residents are consulted on how some of that New Homes Bonus money is spent.

Indeed, DCLG expects the council to do so.

“Local councils can decide how to spend the New Homes Bonus. However, we expect local councils to consult communities about how they will spend the money, especially communities where housing stock has increased.”(Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/increasing-the-number-of-available-homes/supporting-pages/new-homes-bonus)

The aim of the community petition is not to demand 100% of the NHB money, but for you to consult people in Mile End and Braiswick how some of it is spent.

Can I ask whether you, as Mile End councillors, support giving residents a say? And if so, how you would like that to happen?

Yours,

Ben

2. Cllr Anne Turrell to Ben Locker (cc’d to Cllr Goss and Myland Community Council Chair, Cllr Peter Hewitt – 2 April 2014)

Hi Ben

The word Communities does not refer to any particular area it means the Borough.

NHB is in our Budget and everybody is consulted on this. Throughout the year the Budget is Scrutinised by Scrutiny Panel which is a public meeting, it goes to Cabinet which is a public meeting and it goes to Full Council which is a public meeting. So their is ample opportunity for residents to consult.

All Councils have had cuts to their grants and part of those cuts have been redistributed to Councils to encourage them to build more houses. It is not site specific money but for the benefit of all the Borough. Site Specific money comes from other avenues.

The amount we have received for all of Colchester (that’s how it is paid to us) is no where near 20 million. If it was that amount we would be doing major infrastructure things now. 20% of any NHB goes to ECC, Colchester obviously contributes one of the largest amounts, ECC just add it to their general budget and do not use it specifically for any areas nor do they consult anyone because it is not set up that way.

You are confusing NHB with ring fenced grants and with planning gain.

If you want more facts  about NHB please ask and I will arrange for a CBC Officer to send you a factual e mail.

Regards

Anne

3. Ben Locker to Cllr Anne Turrell (cc’d to Borough Cllr Goss and Community Cllr Hewitt – 2 April 2014)

Hi Anne,

Many thanks for the response. I have some points and queries.

The word Communities does not refer to any particular area it means the Borough.

Can you point me to official confirmation of that definition?

I ask because I would argue the definition of ‘communities’ is very much up to the Council in this instance.

When you say that the money is not site specific, this does not mean that it cannot be allocated on a site specific basis.

For example, Wychavon District Council allocates NHB money to parishes and town councils in its area – if they have grown as a result of development.

Can I refer you to this?

We will allocate up to 40% of years four and five NHB to parish and town councils in the areas that have experienced growth as a result of new homes being built and occupied. (Source: http://www.wychavon.gov.uk/cms/housing/new-homes-bonus.aspx)

If Mile End were part of Wychavon it would benefit in this way – as indeed would Myland Community Council.

The amount we have received for all of Colchester (that’s how it is paid to us) is no where near 20 million. If it was that amount we would be doing major infrastructure things now. 20% of any NHB goes to ECC, Colchester obviously contributes one of the largest amounts, ECC just add it to their general budget and do not use it specifically for any areas nor do they consult anyone because it is not set up that way.

The community petition is about future income from NHB, which will be significant. I used a handy online application designed to calculate the amount due to both CBC and ECC on the basis of 3,000 homes. It is an underestimate because I didn’t add in the number of affordable homes. Even if by some miracle the next tranche of development doesn’t get permission, we’re still looking at over half that money coming to the respective councils.

NHB is in our Budget and everybody is consulted on this. Throughout the year the Budget is Scrutinised by Scrutiny Panel which is a public meeting, it goes to Cabinet which is a public meeting and it goes to Full Council which is a public meeting. So their is ample opportunity for residents to consult.

This is not consultation. This is allowing the public to comment on your budget. Leaving the door open for busy people to come to council meetings is nowhere near as effective as taking the message to them and saying ‘How would you like us to use some of this money to make your area a better place to live, work and play?” That’s what the community petition is about.

All Councils have had cuts to their grants and part of those cuts have been redistributed to Councils to encourage them to build more houses. It is not site specific money but for the benefit of all the Borough. Site Specific money comes from other avenues.

As I said, because money is site specific does not prevent you from investing it in specific sites – like Mile End, which will bear the brunt of Colchester’s expansion over the next decade.

You are confusing NHB with ring fenced grants and with planning gain.

No, I’m not. As the guidance says, councils can spend NHB as they wish – but they are expected to consult the communities affected.

Finally, when you said in the Gazette that “there will be a few infrastructure projects”, could you give me some indication of what they may be, and whether they will be in Mile End?

To conclude, I do hope that you will reconsider and give Mile End people a say in how this money is used.

Thanks again for your time.

Kindest wishes,

Ben

4. Cllr Anne Turrell to Ben Locker (cc’d to Cllr Goss and Cllr  Hewitt – 2 April 2014)

Hi Ben

As a resident of Colchester I am happy to meet you then we can go through your issues point by point. If you would like a meeting please let me know and I will ask PA to Cabinet to find a suitable date.

Regards

Anne

5. Ben Locker to Cllr Anne Turrell (cc’d to Borough Cllr Goss and Community Cllr Hewitt – 2 April 2014)

Hi Anne,

Many thanks for this. Sorry for the delay in replying – I’ve been speaking bad French in Bures this evening!

I have a number of local residents who are keen to discuss this. If you are happy to meet a small group of us I will get convenient dates and times from them and drop you a line to fix up a meeting.

Kindest wishes,

Ben

I will report back on any future correspondence or meetings.

1 Comment New Homes Bonus petition – Cllr Anne Turrell’s response

  1. Norman Crook

    How dare they add thousands of homes here,where are the jobs???
    And the infrasture? The traffic congestion is already very bad.How dare they congest my town
    with peopl;e without jobs ,from London!!!
    how dare they.Vote the idiots out.

    Reply

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