Council criticised for not investing in community projects

PUBLISHED: 12:28 16 November 2018

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Portishead Town Council is to ‘demand’ answers on what is happening to money earmarked for the area – following complaints from taxpayers.

Chairman Cllr Peter Mitchell.Chairman Cllr Peter Mitchell.

People living in Portishead have complained in recent weeks about the slowness with which money earmarked for the town is being spent by North Somerset Council.

The authority accrues money through section 106 grants from developers whenever a large project is passed. The cash, which is often used to increase school places or build roads, is designed to help the community.

But at last week’s town’s residents meeting, the council was criticised for not using the funds to benefit Portishead and risking losing the cash if it did not spend it quickly enough.

Janet Davey said developments in Portishead have raised £2.78million of S106 money since 2016, of which £288,000 was ring-fenced for affordable housing.

She said: “There is no guarantee that this money will go towards affordable housing in Portishead and I suggest the (town) council makes some attempt to lobby North Somerset Council to save this considerable sum for our town, which is in desperate need of such housing.”

Independent councillor Arthur Terry said North Somerset Council had to decide where it can best spend S106 money and Portishead residents are ‘not banned’ from applying for affordable housing in, for example, Weston.

He added that affordable housing normally comes as part of big developments – something many residents have opposed for years.

Portishead Town Council will discuss the points raised at the residents’ meeting in December, but has promised to act on the S106 concerns.

Chairman Peter Mitchell said: “The town council has been chasing North Somerset Council for an update on the funds for many months.

“However this has gone on long enough and so town councillors have demanded a meeting with officers to get a complete report on all Portishead projects that involve S106 money and receive a full update on the status of every individual project.

“We want to ensure the town is allocated all it is due and it is spent as intended, on improvements to our town, but we need to fully understand where each project is at in order to move forward and make our demands.”

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