Monday, 4 July 2011

Reading council 'mis-spent £325,000 section 106 cash'

An investigation at Reading Borough Council has concluded that £325,000 of section 106 (s106) planning gain money was wrongly allocated over a period of four years.

An independent review was carried out by Wokingham Borough Council after councillors raised concerns about management of s106 funds by the previous administration.

The review found that because no senior manager had overall responsibility for s106, there was "insufficient council-wide co-ordination, strategic control and direction".

My comment: Diverting Section 106 'bungs' away from their intended purpose into Officer and Councillor pet projects is wrong. However, when Section 106 agreements were invented, as a way of legalising planning bungs, it was obvious to everyone then that some Councillors/Officers/Council would misuse them. Therfore, it comes as no surprise when they do.

Read the full story from the source Regeneration+Renewal

1 comment:

  1. This story isn't just about misallocation of planning gain funds, but rather how it starts to expose a pattern of use of public money for private political advantage.

    The accusation is that s106 and other funds were hidden so money could then be 'found' for more sensitive budget areas once they'd been identified closer to election time.

    However because this potentially breaks legal agreements with developers there may be a case that these funds could be reclaimed, adding to financial problems for LAs while budget cuts are being absorbed.

    Secondly, there is a strong suggestion that if this occured on any organised scale it could only be possible where there existed collusion between specific council officers and the ruling party.

    The £325k reflects only that portion of s106 money identified as misallocated over a four-year period, or less than 0.1% of the total annual budget for each year. Yet according to some calculations this pattern may amount in some authorities to as much as 10% of the total spend through different channels.

    Acceptance of this level of corruption at senior levels would do much to explain why a large number of authorities remain under the control of the same party despite consistently poor performance over decades.

    According to one senior council officer I spoke to the practise is commonly known as 'shepherding'.

    So tightening up the rules on accounting could actually start to expose the full size of the iceberg.