17 October 2011

S106 - no planning in planning

Just look at this delegated powers report number 1357. Straightaway it makes one stop. 1357 ? but we are already up to number 1439. Ooh look, its been sloshing around since June. Let us take a closer look at it.

click to enlarge; back to return

It is rare for a DPR to take 3 months to be processed. This one seems to have been sat on at every stage, except in August when everyone must have been on holiday.

So these two employees are said to be free as they are funded from the S106 income received. There is always an administrative cost of doing anything. Mr Mustard is not convinced that two more officers are needed as the volume of cases is not that high. In his alter ego's debt collection business of 24 years standing the normal per person caseload was 500 cases and he handled 1200 himself.

S.106 payments are not new. They are contributions made by developers on large scale projects which are to be spent on specific improvements i.e. Barnet College paid a little over £100,000 towards improving the traffic junction outside the college in High Barnet. The college is finished but the money has not been spent yet.

Mr Mustard does not understand why these posts are for less than 12 months as there is no suggestion that S106 is going to stop any time soon.  The 4% collection levy will cover most of the costs.

Para 8.1 - There seems already to be one person doing this job. Does it really need two more? The incumbent does not appear to have achieved the required tasks.

The number of cases may have gone up by a multiple of 5 but given that there are still only 285 of them that would, if 2 extra people are employed, only be 95 each which would mean that each employee could spend 2 whole weeks on each case - that should not be necessary.

How is that management completely failed to notice that the number of S106 agreements had gone up by a factor of 5 in 2008 & 2009. Where they asleep on the job?  Oh, someone woke up in July 2010 ( para 8.2 ) but it is October 2011 now? What has been going on since July 2010?

Paragraph 8.3 tells us that Barnet Council have failed to collect £2.5m of our money. What a bunch of incompetents. Everyone knows that in hard times you control the cash and firstly you get in everything that you are owed.

S.106 Agreements are not rocket science. The developer is granted planning permission & in return they make a payment for the good of the area. This is recorded as a charge in the land registry. If the developer does not pay to time then the council can start to enforce its charge ( a sort of mortgage ) over the land - if the developer doesn't pay - enforcement action can take place. It's really quite simple. The local authority holds all the cards, but then Barnet appear to be a bit of a soft touch when it comes to developers. Think again Barnet, you have the developer over a barrel.

Mr Mustard thinks he was at a meeting recently where the leader was saying how Brent X had agreed to the largest S.106 contribution ever ( possibly £5m* ). I do hope that you actually collect it Cllr Cornelius, otherwise you will have been spouting hot air.

Remember, cash is king.

Correction - Having taken the £5m figure out of a council report on their website Mr Mustard finds he was a long way off the mark. This link to a page by Navin Shah, a Harrow councillor, shows the S106 monies to be £515m in addition to the £4.5bn being spent by the developer.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

1 comment:

  1. The Barnet Times says that Brent Cross is worth £4.5-BILLION (and ruin Barnet, many think).

    Presumably the Section 106 money is going to be a lot more than £5-million, or has the council been fleeced?


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