Merton residents deserve to benefit from local development

Conservative councillors have unveiled plans which would ensure residents benefit from improved local infrastructure as a result of new developments in their own area. The proposals, which were outlined in a motion to this month’s Full Council meeting, call for Neighbourhood CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) monies generated in Merton to be spent in the neighbourhood where they were raised. Conservatives have also set out how local residents and their elected representatives should have a say over how this funding is spent.

Under the Conservative plans, residents would be involved in the Neighbourhood CIL allocation process through discussion at meetings of the 5 Community Forums and regular online consultations to establish their priorities for how the money should be spent locally. To increase transparency and democratic accountability over the process, a CIL Review Panel consisting of two council officers and a councillor from each of Merton’s five designated town centres (Colliers Wood, Mitcham, Morden, Raynes Park and Wimbledon) would be established.

However, at the meeting on 12th April 2017, Labour councillors all voted against the Conservative proposals.

Councillor Najeeb Latif - Conservative Spokesman for Regeneration and Sustainability - said:

“I am really disappointed that Labour councillors have rejected our plans to give residents a voice in how Community Infrastructure Levy funding is spent here in Merton.

“At every stage in the development of these proposals, I have sought to engage with the Labour administration to build a cross-party consensus. Unfortunately it seems Merton Labour really aren’t interested in listening to residents let alone allowing them a say in allocating funding within their own communities.

“We all know that new development places real demands on the residents in that area and Neighbourhood CIL is vital in helping address this. There is currently £500,000 in the pot waiting to be spent on projects in Merton. The Government has been clear that local people and communities should be empowered to make the improvements and changes that their areas need. Yet Labour appear happy just to let unelected council officers decide behind closed doors.

“Despite this setback, Conservatives will continue pushing to ensure proper democratic accountability in how this precious money is spent in the future.”

Notes:

  1. Under Government legislation, 15% of the money received from the Community Infrastructure Levy must be spent on priorities to address demands that new development places on neighbourhoods in Merton.  This money is paid into a fund called Merton’s ‘Neighbourhood Fund’, which, as at November 2016, stood at just over £500,000.
  2. The full text of the Conservative motion can be viewed at:

    https://democracy.merton.gov.uk/documents/s16952/Conservative%201.pdf

  3. Not only Labour but also Merton Park Ward Independent Resident and Lib Dem councillors all voted against the Conservative proposals.