Cheshire East Council is updating the way it keeps track of section 106 financial contributions from developers and when the cash is allocated, writes Belinda Ryan.

S106 agreements are legal agreements between the council and developers to secure financial or other contributions to mitigate the impact of development.

These may include payments in lieu of direct provision, such as a financial contribution to education to fund additional school places needed when building new homes.

But some councillors have expressed concerns that funds may be lost because councillors have not been aware of what is always available in their ward.

The matter was raised at a meeting of the environment and communities committee and again at this week’s meeting of the finance sub-committee.

It is also on the work programme for a future meeting of the economy and growth committee.

Cllr Steve Carter (Macclesfield Hurdsfield, Lab) said while there was a proposal on the work programme to “consider the impact of developer contributions on the medium-term financial strategy”, there was no date for when this would be discussed.

“I think it’s something that’s been kicked into touch too often over many, many years,” Cllr Carter told Wednesday’s meeting.

“I can remember when, sitting on the old Macclesfield Borough Council, this information wasn’t readily available and it needs to be readily available and, regardless of who is the administration after May, I hope that this committee will pursue this vigorously because, in my view, there’s potentially a lot of money out there that should be spent, rightfully, on the residents of this borough.”

The issue was also raised at the August 4 meeting of the environment and communities committee.

Congleton councillor Suzie Akers Smith (Ind) asked at that meeting: “Is there anything in place that ensures that the S106 funds are received are allocated to be spent and then councillors are updated?”

Referring to a Congleton pavement scheme dating back to 2013, she said: “I uncovered this funding through looking through the documents and they’re going to get a pavement in now and if I hadn’t done that it would be lost to us next year I think.”

Cheshire East neighbourhood planning manager Tom Evans said the council had taken a manual approach to managing the S106 funding and this had been difficult to keep track of.

Specific software was now being used that could be interrogated and this would improve things in the future.

Cllr Sarah Pochin (Bunbury, Ind) said she had experienced a similar situation to Cllr Akers Smith.

“I actually went looking for S106 money and found a considerable amount in my last ward which the community were completely unaware of and then able to spend on public space,” said Cllr Pochin.

“I’ve also been asking for some time that we have some mechanism whereby the councillors are made aware of what is available in their ward.

“I’m really encouraged to hear that there’s going to be some new software because, I would hope, that not only in addition to the officers being able to monitor the S106 payments and what’s been left over and how much time is left, it would be really helpful if the councillors could also be made aware of what is available in their ward because I nearly lost a considerable amount of money, nearly ran out of time.”

One Comment

  1. Chris Moorhouse says:

    This is a disgrace if proved to be correct. I remember when working of using Sect 106 to buy 6, yes six, two and three bed houses in the expensive town of Stamford, Lincs for £1 each from a developer. The income the 6 generated allowed 14 affordable rented properties to be built off site. The upside side of this is that 20 families were helped by the simple use of Sect 106. What opportunities has CEC missed in providing for its residents from the years since it came in to being?

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