Greenwich Council have announced a shortlist of projects for the public to vote upon to improve local areas.
Areas of the borough for funds are split into four:
- Eltham and Shooters Hill,
- Blackheath and Greenwich,
- Charlton & Woolwich
- Thamesmead, Abbey Wood & Plumstead
Though these projects are very welcome it’s worth bearing in mind that this cash is a very small amount of overall funds that have been obtained from new developments over recent years.
For example, £30k is to be spent across Abbey Wood, Plumstead and Thamesmead which is penny change when Greenwich Council currently have at least £34 million in their accounts still unspent from Section 106 income, with over £170 million incoming.
Those sums have not being consulted upon.
With that in mind, as welcome as this is it’s a drop in the ocean and cannot be used a diversion from what is happening (or not) with far larger sums.
Just yesterday I highlighted how £75,000 allocated for libraries in Abbey Wood and £250,000 for a nursery has not been spent despite the money being received and it being almost five years since the agreement was made.
There’s other funds such as £2.7 million from just one Greenwich development which is not improving local streets, which was covered here, and over £500,000 income from Sainsbury’s in Charlton alone still unspent despite being received.
In that context, £5k for a fitness scheme in Plumstead and £12,825 for Plumstead High Street are nothing. Both are great schemes but much more of that £34 million (and counting) S106 cash could be used for similar projects.
And on the subject of Plumstead High Street, there’s still no word on how £150,000 given from TfL will be spent this financial year. There’s no chance they will consult and spend in time. Well, they may but it won’t be much cop given they have four weeks.
I first covered this fund 18 months ago and Greenwich have had ample time to consult locals. They never have.
Will it even be spent? TfL are now broke so after 20 years of funding from this scheme it could well now dry up with little to ever show for it.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that only registered groups could submit bids for funding in this round of consultation.
It would be nice to see a wider pool of applicants and ideas which could be obtained from regular local ward meetings as many other London authorities provide.
That doesn’t mean the heavily orchestrated and regimented “Better Together” meetings. They can be used to obtain ideas for sure but in addition to formal local meetings that are open to all and have dedicated points of contact with council officers and have minutes taken and placed in the public domain. “Better Together” doesn’t do that.
The funds for this scheme come from the Community Infrastructure Levy which mainly replaces Section 106 income from developers. S106 will still exist for larger developments.
By law, 15% of Community Infrastructure Levy income must be spent in the local area of incoming funds from a development.
Some councils have opted for 25% to be spent in the local area but Greenwich have decided on the minimum required by law.
Now CIL has mainly replaced S106 the amounts coming in will ramp up quickly. Quite soon tens of millions from the Community Infrastructure Levy will join the tens of millions from S106 funds.
Consultation on those far larger pots of cash are needed. As welcome as this consultation is, and the use of websites to do so is a nice step into the 21st century, the funding totals are of very limited scope. Will they consult on far larger amounts in the near future and engage with the public?