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Droitwich projects will be at risk if New Homes Bonus is scrapped

Droitwich Editorial 9th Apr, 2015 Updated: 17th Oct, 2016

COMMUNITY schemes in Droitwich could be put in jeopardy if the next Government scraps the New Homes Bonus (NHB) scheme.

That is the warning from the chairman of the town council’s resource committee Ken Jennings.

The NHB has already generated £102,000 for the town and £80,000 of that has already been spent on community projects in Droitwich.

And, in the next six years, Droitwich stands to receive a further £281,000 from the scheme.

Wychavon District Council has taken the decision to suspend the scheme pending the outcome of the general election in May.

Mr Jennings, the chairman of the committee responsible for handling the NHB, has raised his fears over the scheme being abolished.

He said: “These community projects would not have been possible without the money from the NHB.

“We have a shopping list for future NHB funds which is why it is vital the scheme continues.”

Last year, one grant of £60,000 went towards the major refurbishment of the Droitwich Community Hall, Heritage Way, paying for improvements to the roof, the interior decor and the north wall, which was starting to crack and crumble.

A sum of £20,000 funded equipment for Droitwich Amateur Boxing Club’s new premises, helping the organisation to get the venue up-and-running.

Mr Jennings voiced his concerns over Labour’s public announcement saying it would scrap the NHB if it formed the next Government.

And he added, among the projects the town council had earmarked for funding, were infrastructure improvements to the centre of Droitwich and an expansion of the St Peters Playing Fields’ pavilion.

He added a new power supply has already been installed in Victoria Square which would be used for the town’s major events, such as the Salt Fest and St Richard’s Festival. And, there were also plans to introduce further ones to other parts of the Spa.

On the principle of the scheme, Mr Jennings said: “The NHB is payback for all the new housing being built in Droitwich and it should pay for community infrastructure that people want to see.”

Robin Lunn, the Labour parliamentary candidate for mid-Worcestershire, said he would be supporting the abolition of the scheme as it had not had the desired effect of encouraging new housing where it was needed, which was backed up by the National Audit Office’s statistics.

He added: “It also has moved money from deprived areas where it is most needed to wealthier areas.

“In short it is a policy which has not worked and Labour will allocate money to local government more fairly and achieve better and more consistent results.”

Nigel Huddleston, the Conservative candidate for mid-Worcestershire, said the future of the NHB was an issue he had been campaigning on as the Conservatives were committed to keeping it.

He added: “It provides an incentive for those local authorities which want to promote growth to share in the economic benefits.”

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