WILTSHIRE Council is sitting on “quite staggering sums” of money intended to be spent on better facilities for Salisbury, the city’s area board chairman has said.
The cash comes from developers who make what are known as Section 106 agreements to contribute to community facilities when they are given planning permission.
Some of this money comes with a proviso that it is spent in or near a particular development to provide infrastructure such as school places or road improvements, but some is available for use over a wider area.
And there are deadlines attached. If it is not spent in time, it has to be returned to the builders.
Currently, £279,000 is awaiting allocation to projects involving open spaces and recreation in the city parish, Thursday’s board meeting was told.
A chunk of this was once earmarked for an East Harnham community centre, but the scheme was abandoned because Rowbarrow residents did not want it built on a green open space in front of their homes.
Chairman Ricky Rogers asked: “Can we get our hands on some of this money and spend it rather than it being locked away? Is there any flexibility within the rules?”
He told the Journal: “The whole process needs to be made easier and quicker. Sometimes these schemes are taking six years to materialise.”
Cllr Mary Douglas said the money should be spent on repairing the city’s pavements, adding: “Every member of the public would love it.”
Other members suggested building an outdoor swimming pool, or signposting and upgrading public footpaths.
Cllr Brian Dalton said the council should “get itself together”and stipulate that community facilities are built at the same time as any new housing developments.
The board agreed to meet city council representatives to set a joint list of priorities for spending the |money.