Estates get £3.7m... but can't spend it

PLANS to spend millions of pounds in Weston have been shelved until 2007 because a council worker quit after only two months

PLANS to spend millions of pounds in Weston have been shelved until 2007 because a council worker quit after only two months.South ward was given £3.7million by the Government in April to improve the environment of its estatesBut neighbourhood manager Catherine Williams, who was appointed in July to decide where the money should go, has now stepped down.Residents living on the Bournville, Oldmixon, Coronation and Potteries estates wanted to spend the money on neighbourhood wardens, street cleaning and making improvements to public transport. But the money will now sit in a bank account until after the New Year when a new manager can be appointed to give out the cash.Mrs Williams cited personal and professional reasons for her decision to leave the job.North Somerset Council is paying consultant Creating Excellence £5,500 to carry out work the manager would do and hopes to have made a new appointment by the end of the year.Mrs Williams said: "I knew it was going to be a high pressure job. Any job that has a lot of challenges in it is going to be a challenge."There's always things that need to be improved and hopefully the management board can take things forward."Councillor Ian Parker said: "We're already running five months behind the programme and the fact that she's quit will also delay things further."It's demoralising as there's money to be spent, but we can't do anything."I'm frustrated and I know my fellow councillors will also be frustrated about the situation."I thought Catherine was an excellent candidate and had hoped she would take the project forward."Residents living on the estates have already said they want the money spent on improving St Andrew's Parade on the Bournville estate, tidying up litter, cutting back hedges and running more bus services.Community wardens cleaning up the estates' streets was one idea put forward. They would be helped by local children. The uniformed wardens would act as a go-between for residents and the police by reporting graffiti and visiting vulnerable people.North Somerset Council is in talks with the Government Office of the South West on how to proceed in the interim period.A council spokesman said: "We will be recruiting a new neighbourhood manager shortly with a view to having a new manager in place before the end of the year.