Local Liberal Democrat Councillors have discovered that money given by developers to promote Highbridge town centre has been whisked away for other projects.
When ASDA came to Highbridge, the developer had to pay just under £612,000 to “promote the viability and vitality of Highbridge Town Centre and to fulfil regeneration priorities” identified by Sedgemoor District Council.
But since 2006, things had gone quiet, so local Lib Dem Town Councillor John Parkes decided to investigate. As John said: “Highbridge is a town with great pressures on its town centre, so any money for regeneration would be warmly welcomed.”
John asked questions at Sedgemoor District Council and was dismayed to discover:
- £182,062 has disappeared into Somerset County Council’s Education budget
- £30,000 went to maintenance of traffic lights
- £399,868.15 is being held by Sedgemoor Council for as yet unidentified projects but intended to make paths and cycleways from Springfield Road to Isleport Business Park and from Worston Lane to the
recreational facilities at Isleport Ponds.
An outraged John said:
“This is a scandal! Exactly how does almost £400,000 on ponds and footpaths “promote the viability and vitality of Highbridge Town Centre”? Has that £182,000 been spent on Highbridge schools? Who made the decision that
this was the best use of our money? There were three Conservative Burnham Councillors on the Planning Committee at the time – didn’t they know what was going on?”
Victoria Weavell, the Lib Dem candidate in the forthcoming Town Council by-election in Highbridge added:
“When Tesco opened in Burnham, over £300,000 was earmarked for Burnham Town Centre. The ASDA money
is roughly twice this, but not a penny will go to Church Street or Market Street. Why not? The only glimmer of hope is that as the money hasn’t been spent, we can persuade the Tories to spend every last penny in improving
Highbridge. I am writing to the Conservative Leader of Sedgemoor Council asking for this to happen”.
Somerset Liberal Democrats
13th October 2015