yesterday, Lewes District Council voted down a motion that would have seen 10 percent of the New Homes Bonus ‘top sliced’ and handed to town and parish councils to spend as they wish on local community projects.
I was part of the group who voted against the proposal. This is a new scheme, only introduced by the Government in April this year, and at this stage there are still many uncertainties as to how the bonus scheme will work, particularly in light of the fact that we do not yet have the full details of the Localism Bill, which is likely to affect localism initiatives of this kind.
I also personally felt that 10 percent seemed an arbitrary figure based on assumptions rather than facts.
However, I am a strong proponent of localism.
While I do not share the rather cynical concerns of some of my colleagues in the opposition party that the bonus will simply be subsumed into the larger council budget, I do not believe that localism means ‘the state holding our hand’.
If we are to engage in true localism, we must as a council be prepared to trust our town and parish councils as honest representitives of their communities and hand over responsibilities as and when it is appropriate.
In this case, it seems to me that a bonus accrued through homes built in a community should see that money returned directly to that community, be spent on community projects as they see fit.
That need not rule out parishes requesting that the district council put the money towards projects that will directly benefit their community.
That is why I have today written to Cllr Jones, Lead Councillor for Planning, to ask him to investigate the possibility of doing so, once the Localism Bill has been published and the full picture becomes clearer.
Cllr Donna Edmunds
Barcombe Ward (and soon to be Barcombe resident