Labour-controlled Greenwich Council continues to put Peninsula residents through a lot of development pain, for very little local gain.
Money collected from developers, known as Section 106 payments, is meant to be spent on projects to moderate the impact of the development on the local area. Over the past decade the Labour councillors that control Greenwich Council have approved plans for over 15,000 new homes in Peninsula ward – as such residents should expect plenty of Section 106 money to be generated and spent on new infrastructure for the area, to accompany the new homes.
This isn’t happening.
Last month Greenwich Green Party calculated that for every pound development on the Peninsula has raised for the Council in Section 106 money less than 20 pence has been spent back in the ward. Local journalists have conducted further analysis that suggests that this figure could be even lower – with only 10 pence in every pound from Peninsula going back to Peninsula.
Labour councillors have responded angrily to questions about why Peninsula isn’t receiving more money generated from development there. One journalist was even threatened with libel action by one of the Labour ward members for Peninsula. Another Labour ward member branded the journalist a ‘troll’ on twitter and claimed that Section 106 money ‘is not allocated to an area’.
This is not entirely accurate – other Councils, up and down the country, work to ensure that a fair proportion of s106 money from a community is spent back in that community, in a transparent way. Vale of White Horse District Council in Oxfordshire is just one example – each community in the District receives a regular update from the Council showing how much S106 has been raised from new developments within its bounds, and listing the local projects that will receive money from this fund. A sample report for the town of Farringdon can be found here.
Why can’t Labour controlled Greenwich Council do this for Peninsula? Is Peninsula somehow less of a community than other places? We get the feeling that Labour see Peninsula simply as a location to meet housing targets and raise revenue to fund big projects which will generate positive press releases for the Council (see the much trumpeted 2013 refurbishment of the Cutty Sark area, including a new retail area, paid for by the Council with money that came in part from Peninsula developments).
Peninsula is far more than a press-release generating machine. It is a distinctive community with particular community needs, including acute local needs for clean air and children’s play areas, which need to be addressed.
We aren’t going to be intimidated by the bullying behaviour of Labour councillors, and will keep asking when Peninsula will benefit from new, environmentally friendly infrastructure on a scale in keeping with the massive level of homebuilding in the area.
Greenwich Peninsula is a thriving community, and deserves to be recognised as such – however inconvenient this is for Labour.