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Issue 346 – “FROME IS LEFT WITH SQUAT” Mendip District Council snap up cash bonus from 2,000 new homes in Frome

FROME will receive “squat” from Mendip District Council’s cash bonus, awarded for building around 2,000 new homes in the town. Frome Town Council will now enter into urgent negotiations to secure a fair deal for the town.

The ‘New Homes Bonus’ provides a cash incentive for local authorities to encourage housing growth.
It is understood that Mendip District Council is set to receive around £10million over the next five years from the New Homes Bonus, the majority of which will be invested back into the authority despite Frome encompassing the “lion’s share” of homes that the cash bonus was awarded for.
From 2012/13 alone, it is understood that Mendip District Council will receive £1million from the bonus.
Frome town councillors say this is disappointing news for the town and will now open urgent negotiations with Mendip to secure a fair deal.
Mayor of Frome, cllr Nick White commented, “The report reads that Mendip will invest 40% into projects that bring in future revenue income for themselves, with only 1% put into small-scale local projects to improve communities.
“That’s absolutely farcical, a classic case of bureaucrats feathering their own nest. The lion’s share of the housing will be in Frome, and we’re being left with squat. The people of Frome will see no benefit from 2,000 homes being built, it’s outrageous.
“The idea of the funds was to help mitigate the strain that an increase in population will create. It will benefit Mendip’s future, not Frome’s.”
According to the Mendip report the funds from the New Homes Bonus will be divided in key areas over the period 2012/13 to 2016/17;
• 40% to projects that bring in future revenue income for the council to reduce its reliance on government funding.
• 30% to legacy projects that meet the council’s priorities.
• 25% to support front line service provision which might otherwise be lost.
• 4% to capacity building within the organisation to build internal resilience.
• 1% to small scale local projects to improve communities’ environments.
Cllr Nick White commented, “30 per cent into priorities that we have no clue about. 4 per cent into internal resilience, whatever that is. I can understand the 25 per cent to support frontline services, but just 1 per cent for local projects is ridiculous.”
Leader of the council cllr Mel Usher said, “This is a disappointing start to the New Homes Bonus Scheme (NHB).
“Whether we like it or not, Frome has already been earmarked for quite a bit of new development over the next few years. This will produce pressures not just on the services provided by Mendip, but also on the town itself.
“An injection of a few million over the next four years would make a big difference to schemes intended to improve the town centre, the river corridor, employment possibilities and in help for the voluntary sector. Certainly in the first year, that money is likely to be spent elsewhere.
“Starting with the Mendip District Council meeting on the 16th February we will be entering into negotiations to secure a fairer and more transparent share for the people of Frome.”

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