Clash over who should get to spend £22 million of ‘new homes’ money

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Politicians clashed over how Aylesbury Vale District Council should distribute millions of pounds of funding from housing developments.

Parish councils will have to bid for a slice of the Government’s new homes bonus money - predicted to total £22 million in the next six years - from the district council.

Under the scheme, AVDC receives a set amount of money for each additional house built in the district, which it can invest in the way it sees it fit.

But only 20% of the money will be available to parish councils. Critics argue that this amount is to low and that the money should go directly to parish councils rather than them having to bid for it.

The district council received a total of £2.4 million for the first two years of the scheme, which it said was spent in support of the Vale’s new waste recycling scheme. None of it went to the parish councils.

Speaking at AVDC’s full council meeting earlier this week, Lib Dem councillor Llew Monger said some of the £2.4 million should be given to parishes for local projects.

He said: “It’s disingenuous to say the money was used for the new waste system. We were going to have that anyway.”

He also added that the money given to the parishes should be 40% of the total instead of the agreed 20% and that they should have responsibility for what it is spent on. He also raised fears about the representation on the cross party panel which will consider the parish bids.

Lib Dem leader Steven Lambert said the council was holding back the money to make its balance look good.

Conservative Phil Yerby also criticised his party’s policy.

He said: “If we are going to give this money to parishes we should show more trust with how they spend it. Pooling the money is not a good idea.

“There’s nothing wrong in giving the money out to parishes because surely they understand the needs of their residents better than us.”

Tory councillor Mark Winn praised parishes but argued that they should have to bid for the money as too often they encounter problems with attempting to carry out projects on their own.

Cabinet member for resources Neil Blake defended the council and said it was not a requirement to give any of the money to parishes and that the district council was one of only two local authorities, out of 400, across the country to make funds available.

He added: “There’s no reason we should pass any of the money down to anyone, we can keep our 80% all ourselves. All towns and villages that have been affected by housing growth in the district will have an equal opportunity to put forward schemes for local residents and everyone in Aylesbury Vale will benefit from the bonus through the district-wide slice of the fund.”

The motion was passed with a majority but councillors Yerby, Peter Cooper, Julie Ward, Chris Adams, Avril Davies and Steve Patrick abstained.