District Council asked to share benefits of growth

On Tuesday 15 July, over 50 members of the public, including parish councillors from Alvechurch, Barnt Green, Belbroughton, Catshill, Clent and Hagley, attended the New Homes Bonus Public Forum at Bromsgrove Council House.

The Public Forum was called by Bromsgrove Council as a result of a 1,429 name petition presented to Full Council in April 2014. The forum called on the council to consult with local communities affected by housing development and to share, not only the burdens, but also the benefits of growth. Those attending were unimpressed by the Council’s current policy which is to use the grant, likely to rise to approximately £1.2m by 2016/17, to offset the financial pressures facing the Council.

The overwhelming mood of the forum was that the Council should follow the guidance provided by central government and use part of the money to improve local services and facilities in the area most affected by development.

Those attending felt that the council concentrates far too much of its investment in infrastructure and services within Bromsgrove town centre. As a result, villages services and community groups go largely unsupported despite being asked to accommodate the demand arising from further local housing.

It was noted that Wychavon Council have protocols in place which pass on 40% of the New Homes Bonus to affected communities. It is hoped that Cllrs Sheerey, Taylor, Baxter and Mallett will make similar recommendations to the full Council.

The following are extracts from the minutes of Bromsgrove District Council’s Cabinet meeting on 26 February 2014:

  • Agenda item 4, para 3.10: “… by 2016/17 it is estimated that the Council would benefit by £1.2m of New Homes Bonus.”
  • Agenda item 4, para 3.11: “As agreed in the current financial plan any income received from New Homes Bonus will be utilised to offset the pressures facing the Council.