Bell Green: A SydSoc view of s106 Monies

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Bell Green: A SydSoc view of s106 Monies

Post by JGD » 13 Sep 2019 11:23

In the latest edition of SydSoc's Newsletter an item appears that addresses the wider issues of Bell Green.

An extract says:
There have been long-standing concerns that over £1m, ringfenced for widening the Southend Lane Bridge in 1993 under the Section 106 (S.106) agreement, was paid, but has not been used.
S.106 is the list of conditions on which developments may proceed, and specifies money to be put aside for specific purposes. The Sydenham Society’s questions have prompted a review of the S.106 money relating to Bell Green by Lewisham Planning; in the meanwhile, we have been digging in the archives to preview some evidence to be considered. Nearly all the issues relate to Lewisham Highways, and the non-provision of many of the improvements as required.
SydSoc states a figure of £1,034,000 is the value of unexpended monies being reviewed. Interestingly at the meeting of 12 September in the lovely Livesey memorial Hall, SydSoc alluded to a similar figure as being held by Lewisham council.

Unfortunately for SydSoc and the project their information is significantly out-of-date.

SydSoc assert, "The Sydenham Society’s questions have prompted a review of the S.106 money relating to Bell Green by Lewisham...". it would raise questions why such an inaccurate statement has been made.

The realities are quite different. An analysis conducted in early 2019, with extracts from several sources and detailed line-by-line, was put to Cllr Allan Hall (one of our Bellingham Ward Councillors) with the listed entries of s106 monies totalling a value of £3.41m.

Cllr Hall put this to the then Head of Planning Viv Evans, seeking a response in time for the Bellingham Ward assembly at which SydSoc were about to make a presentation on Bell Green.

Viv Evans confirmed that some £2.47m of funds ingathered s106 monies has been identified as still being held by the Council.

For the £3.41m of identifiable s106 monies that had been committed from the several phases of the Bell Green Developments, Viv Evans wrote that he would need to speak with various other teams to understand where each project is in terms of progress, to fully answer the query and scrutinise the status of the remainder. Further results of that scrutiny are awaited.

So here we are once more.

SydSoc fails to make any meaningful contact with Bellingham and Perry Vale ward electorate and invite the communities to engage in a cross-ward leadership of a properly constituted Project Team or Board. The failure has the direct consequence of them being unable to prepare and maintain an up-to-date position on any financial position.

Materially, the impact of their inaccurate position has meant that instead of discussing the Southend Lane viaduct widening proposal with Network Rail (and/or TfL) in the context of "the Council has between £2.47m and £3.41m which we have a desire to see as being a contribution to the cost of bridge-works", SydSoc had a value to hand which was less than 40% of that value. That difference in values might make a significant impact on Network Rail's business processes that would lead to a favourable decision for the viaduct widening to be carried out.

It's time for change SydSoc. The Society has not displayed sufficient expertise or adequate resources to make meaningful progress. The failure to invite joint leadership or to offer to stand down as the "sole" body leading on a project and let those communities who live next to the site appoint a Project Board that can run the project is also a sign of a failing body.

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