Parish council to decide on spending remaining £50K

James Hockaday

A decision to let Burnham Parish councillors decide how to spend the rest of a High Street improvement fund was approved at a council meeting on Monday.

In 2013 about £400,000 was given to Burnham Parish Council by developers Land Securities as a planning condition for the building of the Bath Road shopping complex, the Bishop Centre.

A High Street improvement fund of £240,000 was set aside from the grant and a Land Securities committee of volunteers was set up to manage its use.

At Monday’s meeting, councillors voted to dissolve the committee, meaning councillors can decide how the fund’s remaining £50,000 can be spent unilaterally by the council.

The fund’s management has previously attracted controversy.

In January 2015, former parish councillors Robert Slater and Paul Kelly resigned from the committee over proposals to pay more than 10 per cent of the budget to a project manager.

The suggestion was made due to delays in deciding how to spend the money.

Current and former committee members spoke at the meeting including member Paul Sherriff, who said the committee should stay open. He shared concerns over the remainder of the fund being temporarily frozen in July due to a legal dispute between the council and contractors over the Jennery Lane public toilets.

He said: “We were a little alarmed that some of the funds had been used for legal costs.

“We have no guarantee that we’re going to get this money back through this legal dispute that’s going on.”

The council has since allowed the fund to be used for small projects.

Cllr Marie Hammond said: "All we ever get is flack, all we ever get is contempt and I for one am happy to stand up and say I'm sick of these complaints.

“The £50,000 is really nothing compared to the time and effort that's been put into this.”

New Parish Councillors Paula Prince, Lola Owolabi and Pat Bird, all of whom will represent Burnham Beeches ward were welcomed at the meeting.

Councillors also voted to implement parking enforcement at the George Pircher Memorial Ground by Farnham Lane where parking is 'obstructive', due to excessive congestion.

The meeting took place at Burnham Park Hall in Windsor Lane.

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