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Threat to funds to rejuvenate Chard
8:30am Saturday 12th October 2013 in News
MONEY earmarked for the Chard Regeneration Scheme could be spent in another part of the country, it was claimed this week.
South Somerset District council’s aspirations for the multimillion pound project may not be realised because of a new Government proposal to cut the New Homes Bonus handout.
If approved, more than onethird of the grant, which is based on how many homes are built or brought back into occupation, would go to business-led Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) rather than the local authority.
The plans to ‘top-slice’ 35% of the bonus would represent a £5 million loss to the district council over three years and could also impact the Crewkerne Link Road (CLR) site in Crewkerne.
Tim Carroll, deputy leader of the district council, which is part of Heart of South West LEP for Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay, said he is concerned that funding could be diverted away from the district.
He told the News: “It depends where the LEP decide their priorities lie and what projects they see fit to support – and there is no guarantee at all that any of this funding will come South Somerset’s way to support projects within the district.
“I would also make the obvious point that we have no direct influence on these decisions as we, along with the other districts, currently have no representation on the LEP Board.
“LEPs do have to be funded in the future to fulfil their role in the growth agenda but not from this source unless we can be assured that we had direct influence and input on their decisions.”
He added that in South Somerset it is the major infrastructure projects which are most likely to be affected by the changes.
“The obvious possible candidate projects are those where the infrastructure elements are significant and have to be delivered early in the life of a scheme before cash flow through house sales is established,” Cllr Carroll said.
“We are currently investigating ways of reducing this initial financial burden where it is significant such as with projects like the CLR site in Crewkerne and elements of the Chard Regeneration Scheme.”
The proposal is currently in consultation and if approved the changes would come into effect from 2015/16.
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