'Spend £3.5m cash stash on town'

MORE than £3.5million due to be spent on community facilities, roads and reopening the railway in Portishead is being squirreled away in North Somerset's

MORE than £3.5million due to be spent on community facilities, roads and reopening the railway in Portishead is being squirreled away in North Somerset's bank accounts.An internal investigation - to review how North Somerset Council manages cash generated from its planning agreements - has revealed the authority has a total of £12million stashed away in its bank account.The inquiry has been conducted by a working party set up under the auspices of the Strategic Planning and Economic Development Scrutiny Panel.In Portishead, one million pounds has been earmarked for rail development, £260,000 for community initiatives, £69,854 for libraries and £22,858 for highways.A total of £341,000 has been set aside for youth facilities - with much of that being allocated to the expansion of the youth club - and a further £261,654 is to go on improving parks, open spaces and sports in the town.A further sum of just over one million pounds has also been banked to spend on affordable housing in Portishead and £504,142 is expected to be ploughed into education and £6,187 will go towards improving bus stops.The total £12million, with a savings rate of 4.5 per cent, would make the council an incredible £1,479 in interest each day alone.If the cash is not spent on the projects within the timescale agreed by the council, the money plus the interest will be handed back to the developers.The figures were revealed in the special report which was due to be discussed at a meeting of North Somerset Council last night (Tues). Cllr Pasley said: "There is no point keeping the money stashed away when it is earmarked for projects - let's get on with the jobs in hand."We could use the one million pounds earmarked for the railway on getting a platform and station built as a way of forcing others to take the situation with congestion in the town more seriously."If the money is there for the railway, it should be spent on the railway and the last thing we want to happen is for it to go back into the developer's pockets." * What would you like the council's cash pot spent on? Write and tell us at Portishead Times, 32 Waterloo Street, Weston-super-Mare, BS23 1LW. You can also email us your letters at nstimes@archant.co.uk


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