Community “disappointed and angry” at delay in play area funding

A funding glitch which halted plans to upgrade a children’s play area in a Barnsley village has caused bitterness with demands the council finds the £18,000 to allow the scheme to proceed immediately.

Tuesday, 5th November 2019, 11:36 am
Updated Monday, 11th November 2019, 4:34 pm
Coun Dave Griffin

Plans to upgrade children’s play facilities in Millhouse Green were one of three projects announced by Barnsley Council, to be financed with ‘Section 106’ money, the cash handed over by developers to improve the community.

Money for the Millhouse Green project, which involves fencing the site off, putting in more play equipment and creating a nature area, had been earmarked from a payment associated with the creation of a new car park for St John’s School in Penistone, taking up an area of green space.

But it is understood that project has now been put on hold, leaving the council with an unexpected gap in its Section 106, meaning the Millhouse Green project has been put on hold until money comes in from elsewhere – a development which has caused upset in the community.

Disappointment: Millhouse Green Community Association's Helen Townsend with Coun Hannah Kitching

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Millhouse Green Community Association had been asking for better facilities for some time, with chair Helen Townsend arguing the village had grown in recent years and was now short of public spaces.

She has been supported by Coun Hannah Kitching, who represents the area, who said: “What was promised here wasn’t a huge amount. It isn’t good enough when you consider how much the village has grown.”

Barnsley Council had agreed to the development, she said, with the authority “needing to find a funding stream”.

“It appears they have not found the funding stream. What is upsetting for the community is that it had been promised. People have been asking for a refurbishment here for years.

“We have been on the receiving end of our (locally raised Section 106) money being spent elsewhere for a number of years. My view is the council should find some money from its pot. People are really disappointed and angry.”

However, Coun Dave Griffin who worked on the plan to upgrade the play area with the community association insisted the project would go ahead as soon as more money became available from developments within the Penistone West council ward.

It was likely the cash would come from a contribution made a developer working in the Springvale district, he said.

“There is a perception locally that most of our Section 106 money goes to other places in Barnsley. I have looked at the records for the last 10 years and this is not the case.

“Almost all of it has been spent in Penistone and surrounding villages,” he said.

That included providing cash to support the refurbishment of Millhouse Green’s tennis courts, he said.

The council could not spend Section 106 money until it arrived, after new developments had been completed, he said.

“There is an issue as to what happens if a development doesn’t take place.”

It meant projects expected to be financed from that source would have to wait until money did become available, he said.

“It is not Barnsley Council going back on its word or giving the money to something else, it is because St John’s School can no longer afford to develop the car park,” he said.