SMALL communities are set to be hit by a ‘deplorable’ ‘hijacking’ of new homes cash, angry critics have warned.
Leaders at Aylesbury Vale District Council heard that a government New Homes Bonus – offered to encourage home building – will not be shared among parish and town councils.
Instead, it will be used to fund a £2 million refurbishment at the district council’s Pembroke Road waste depot.
A meeting last week heard the decision could impact on talks with parishes over how many new homes they need in coming years.
And the move has been blasted by the Aylesbury Vale Association of Local Councils, which represents 85 parish and town councils across the Vale.
A letter from the association said there had been ‘no engagement’ with parishes, and stated: “The apparent hijacking of resources intended to benefit directly the communities most affected by new house building is to be deplored.”
Association chairman Jenny Hunt told the Herald after the meeting: “They’re not giving us any opportunity to be able to discuss this.”
At a cabinet meeting AVDC finance chief Councillor Neil Blake, Conservative, said talks with town and parish councils would be happening in coming months.
Mr Blake added that AVDC’s decision to keep hold of the New Homes Bonus – which was introduced last year, and will see the government match cash raised from council tax on new homes – is a temporary measure. After the meeting, he said: “We felt that using the money to fund the depot would save us borrowing £2 million, which would reduce our outgoings.
“You can’t borrow for nothing, so we feel the whole Vale would benefit.”
Winslow Town Council has hit out at the decision. Town mayor Llew Monger told the Herald: “The policy means that for the first two years, 100 per cent of the money is being effectively stolen from the communities affected.”
Councillor Carole Paternoster, Conservative, who is responsible for strategic planning, said: “No-one’s going to talk to us if we go ahead and take the whole of the New Homes Bonus. That’s going to be an issue until you go out there and talk to all the towns and parishes.”