Mid Suffolk: Council dispute over �1.2m New Homes Bonus fund

A COUNCIL has come under fire from a group of councillors who are demanding it spends some of an untouched fund of �1.2million.

The Green Party at Mid Suffolk District Council is urging the authority to use money from the New Homes Bonus to boost the local economy.

The bonus was introduced by the Government to reward local councils for building new homes. Mid Suffolk is expecting to receive more than �800,000 by the end of 2012/13 after receiving more than �400,000 for 2011/12.

Leader of the council Tim Passmore said the authority is waiting for the Government’s Autumn Statement, on December 5, before working out what to do with the money.

“This money should not be in a bank account, it should be working for the community,” Andrew Stringer leader of the opposition said.

“We are not suggesting spending money for the sake of it. It should re-invigorate the local economy.

“We have sat on this money for long enough, the money is not there to prop up existing budgets, it’s to help the local economy, businesses and people.”

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Mid Suffolk could receive nearly �11million by 2017/18 from the scheme.

The Green Party has proposed spending �70,000 on an apprenticeship scheme and �200,000 over two years for a homes insulation fund.

“We have not been slow to act, we need to know where we are financially,” Mr Passmore said.

“We do not want to end up in a muddle. We are going to look at all these ideas; we want to be sure on other monies.

“We need to be careful about how we spend the money… we need to look at the wider picture. We are trying to be as wide ranging and comprehensive as we can.”

“The money will be for one-off items, we do not want to support the ongoing costs of running Mid Suffolk.”

He said the council would consider all the proposals put forward by the Green Party.

The Green Party has also proposed spending �120,000 over three years on a neighbourhood plans which would give communities more of a say on new developments.

The group would spend �100,000 over two years on a project to fit solar panels to the roof of Mid Suffolk’s offices in Needham Market.

The Government provides the money by match funding the additional council tax raised through new homes and empty properties brought back into use.

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