Councils clash over education contributions

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Suffolk County Council has claimed Mid Suffolk should have contributed more section 106 money to education provisions in Stowmarket.

In May, parents on Cedars Park reacted angrily after many were told their children could not get a place at the estate’s school despite living less than half a mile way from its gates.

Suffolk County Council (SCC) claims in recent years it has asked for around £1.84 million from Mid Suffolk District Council in contributions to education in the area .

A spokesman said that in June 2010, the council requested £609,187 in response to the 112 dwelling Bellway Homes development and a further £1.235 million in June 2011 in response to a 209 home Crest Nicholson development.

But the council says it has received just £120,000 in contributions, £20,000 from Crest Nicholson and another £100,000 from an independent developer.

But a spokesman for SCC said spending was a ‘careful balancing act.’

He said: “Moving on from any historic issues around funding for local education, we’re keen to work closely with the district council going forward to ensure we secure sufficient developer contributions to fund the necessary school places arising from housing growth. SCC understand the competing demands which district have to meet over Section 106 funds and developments and in this case, and indeed all cases it is a careful balancing act.”

Philip Isbell, Development Manager at Mid Suffolk, said there was only a finite amount of money from developer contributions and the money had been used to develop the estate’s community centre and infrastructure.

“We recommended to the planning committee a package of contributions including the community hall which is something the residents were very keen to see happen. With these things you find there are some things you can afford and some you cannot.”