Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
1. Question to Cllr. Graham Sutton from Cllr. Sally Symington
“A recent FOI request by a Berkhamsted resident has revealed that £223,563 out of £3,286,091.73 of unspent S106 monies held by Dacorum Borough Council has come from Berkhamsted developments. Of this, just £14,235 is allocated for projects in Berkhamsted and is earmarked for improvements to playgrounds.
Please can the portfolio holder confirm these figures and detail which developments the monies arose from; the dates the monies were received and the time at which the funds expire?”
Councillor G Sutton’s response:
A total of £223,563 s106 receipts is held for various projects in Berkhamsted. Of this, £19,398 is currently committed so the available balance is £204,165.
The details of the cases, twenty in total, are given on the spreadsheet which accompanies this response and shows the developments and sites from which the receipts arose, and the expiry dates for spend.
For most of the cases – fifteen – there is no expiry date specified on the s106 obligation. The remaining five expire in either 2023 or 2024.
For all cases, our internal management systems for s106 receipts provide monthly alerts for officers across the Council to help ensure that deadlines are not missed. Where no date is specified, a default timescale of five years from receipt is used.
With reference to the available balance of £204,165, the details on spend will be defined in the s106 obligation.
Councillor Symington asked if it would be possible to reinitiate publication of the developer contributions.
Councillor G Sutton replied he would speak to the team and see if that was possible. He advised in Berkhamsted they had around 20 but for the whole Borough it would be considerably more. He added that he could provide Councillor Symington with a copy of the case spreadsheet she was referring to.
Councillor Symington asked for confirmation that the council adopts the premise that the S106 monies are for benefit of local community from which they derive and asked for assurance that local representatives have a say in how those monies are spent.
Councillor G Sutton confirmed that local communities and representatives are consulted on this. He advised each s106 monies may contain its own terms and conditions on how it can be spent and what it can be used for.
Councillor Symington advised that planning permission was recently granted for a development in Shooters Way and attached was a £75k s106 award. She asked what assurance the Portfolio Holder could give to the residents of Berkhamsted that these monies will be collected and spent on the sports facilities on which they were intended.
Councillor G Sutton advised that if those are the terms and conditions of the planning application then the team will definitely collect the money and send in the right direction.
2. Question to Councillor Banks from Councillor Symington
Would the portfolio holder agree that Council contractual procedures should not impede local organisations or clubs from applying for grants to improve community assets, such as poorly maintained and consequently underused football pitches, especially when -
(a) this is for the benefit of the local community,
(b) where there is a demonstrable public benefit,
(c) where it is in line with the stated DBC policy to promote sport in the community, and
(d) where it is without detriment to the public asset?
Councillor Banks advised that for this specific case they hadn’t been able to support the application for funding as the football fields are a shared resource.
Councillor Symington asked how we can help the community to avoid missing out due to small technicalities. Councillor Banks said she had sought advice from officers and it was her understanding that the current funding doesn’t allow these clubs to apply on behalf of DBC and pass the money on to us to invest in to these sites. She advised that due to the guaranteed use of pitches, health and safety controls and the risk of chemical use on the pitches, it was the wrong grant pot to apply to.
Councillor Symington asked the Portfolio Holder to agree that the subject should be raised with the appropriate Overview and Scrutiny Committee and properly examined.
Councillor Banks agreed she would discuss the matter with the relevant OSC Chairman.
Councillor Symington asked if the Portfolio Holder had actually read the agreement between the Football Club and the Football Foundation.
Councillor Banks advised she hadn’t read the document Councillor Symington was referring to but she had done some research in to the grant pot and it appeared to her that it was necessary for them to have at least a ten year guarantee use of the pitch and choose own contractors to maintain those pitches and there was nowhere in Dacorum that we have arrangement.
Publication date: 10/03/2020
Date of decision: 26/02/2020
Decided at meeting: 26/02/2020 - Council