Hagley campaigners say new homes bonus cash should be ploughed back into their village (From Stourbridge News)
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Hagley campaigners say new homes bonus cash should be ploughed back into their village
8:00am Thursday 10th October 2013 in News
A HAGLEY campaign group which lost the fight against a controversial village housing estate is calling for massive cash bonuses given by the Government to councils to be handed directly to affected communities.
Hagley Residents Action Group (HRAG) hit out after Bromsgrove District councillors voted for money from the New Homes Bonus scheme to be placed in a central district pot so it is unclear where it is being spent.
The group has started an online petition calling for the cash, given to councils for increasing the number of homes in their areas, to be fed back directly to the community where new homes are being built.
It is calling for people to sign it.
The 175 Cala Homes development in Hagley, which HRAG vehemently opposed, will see Bromsgrove Council receive more than £1.3 million from the Government, with a further £500k for the neighbouring Strathearn development of 70 homes.
A statement released by the group read: “It is only fair the money is put back into affected communities - this was the original intention of the New Homes Bonus Scheme when it was launched in 2010.
“This money would help communities facing large-scale development cope with resultant changes and disruption and help reduce the financial burden placed on villages that are effectively being upgraded to towns without the infrastructure required.”
The group said the money should go to local groups such as toddler and youth groups, community centres, sports clubs and parish councils.
It stated: “The group fears without this source of funding these groups will either go under or they will not be able to support the expanding communities in coming years as budgets are frozen or slashed.”
Councillor Roger Hollingworth, leader of Bromsgrove District Council, said: “The ‘new homes bonus’ is a Government incentive designed to increase housebuilding which, as the name suggests, gives councils a cash bonus for each new home in their area.
“It is paid annually for six years after construction and councils decide how to use it, except for the 35 per cent the Government takes off the top and gives straight to Local Enterprise Partnerships specifically for employment growth.
“Here the district council decided to treat the rest of the money in the same way as our portion of the council tax and put it into the general fund for local services, the same as the majority of councils have done including five out of six in Worcestershire.
“With the needs new homes create already dealt with through the planning system, any bonus money on top of this should benefit all residents, not just in a minority of areas, and as council leader I have no intention of kowtowing to this kind of pressure.”
The petition can be signed at http://newhomes.epetitions.net/ If it reaches 1,250 signatures there will have to be a public debate at a full council meeting.
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