Councillor Paul Fisher and I spoke to Worton residents of all ages tonight at a meeting called by Residents of Worton Estate (ROWE), the residents' association, to discuss how to spend £419k of Section 106 money which we recently discovered was owed to them.
The money had been made available at the time of the new build on Worton Green but ward councillors had not, shall we say, been encouraged to know about it.
Chairing the meeting was not always easy as residents young and old wanted eagerly to put their ideas forward, and many insisted upon doing so in unison. Play and sports facilities for young people, a social club for older people, security gates and landscaping along the riverbank were all mooted as possible projects.
Paul in particular has been a powerhouse when it comes to identifying funding that is available for spending in the community. It is absolutely criminal that so much has been returned to developers because councillors and council officers in other areas have made no effort to grab what is there on behalf of their local residents before the deadline has been reached.
Of course money isn't everything and in the hands of politicians of a certain mindset could be and has been misused, but our practice has been first to secure the funds and second to ask the residents what they want done with it. That is the ICG way, and a lot of people in the communities we represent have been empowered with the means to determine their own priorities.