Funding boost set for park facilities

Morpeth Paddling Pool has been earmarked to benefit from part of the �37,500 Section 106 funding if the money is allocated to Morpeth Town Council.
Morpeth Paddling Pool has been earmarked to benefit from part of the �37,500 Section 106 funding if the money is allocated to Morpeth Town Council.

Popular facilities for children at Morpeth’s Carlisle Park are set to benefit from a major funding windfall.

After making inquiries, town council clerk Tracey Bell has discovered that £37,500 allocated as part of the Section 106 (S 106) planning agreement for the Saint George housing scheme will go to the authority if the payment gets the final green light.

S 106 money is for community projects and councillors are currently earmarking the money for the paddling pool and climbing frame in the park. As well as improving their appearance, the structures would be strengthened.

The £90million project to provide 374 new homes and significant public open space on the site of the former St George’s Hospital involves the Homes and Communities Agency, Galliford Try and Home Group.

At a meeting of the council’s finance and general purposes committee, Mrs Bell said: “I have made the point to Galliford Try through the county council that the funds would benefit popular town facilities, so hopefully we receive them sooner rather than later.”

In addition, the 2016/17 budget was discussed by many of the committee members at the meeting. A report by Mrs Bell recommends a precept rise of just over two per cent.

This would mean residents in the ‘average’ Band D properties would pay an extra £2.20 over the year in council tax for the Morpeth Town Council section of their bill.

Coun Les Cassie said he is in favour of the precept staying the same because of the year-end surplus amounts that the authority has put into its balances in recent years.

He added: “The budget mechanism we use overstates the actual annual expenditure and understates the amount that goes into balances and so I believe we can definitely cope if there is no rise in the precept next year.”

Coun Bob Robertson said: “I don’t think a two per cent rise will cause major harm to residents and we’re about to enter an uncertain time with things such as the impact of new housing developments to take into account, so I agree with the recommendation.

“I would rather have a surplus and spend it for the good of the community than have no surplus at all, so I agree with the point of view that we should have allocated some of the surplus funds in previous years for projects.”

The committee will come up with a budget recommendation at its January meeting to put to the full council when it meets later that month.