Millions of pounds of community cash remains unspent by Sheffield Council

Communities are missing out on better roads and green spaces because a pot of £12million is sitting unspent at Sheffield Council.

Wednesday, 3rd February 2021, 12:30 pm

When a development is built, money is given to the local neighbourhood for improvements.

Known as Section 106 funding, it can be spent on parks, playgrounds, traffic calming, benches, flower pots and even flood defences.

There is a community chest of almost £12.3m unspent at Sheffield Council. Officers say £7.6m is committed to projects but the rest hasn’t been earmarked for anything.

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Coun Mary Lea and Coun Bob Johnson look over the plans for Spider Park

There are 245 funding agreements fully or partially unspent – half stretch back more than five or even ten years.

The Liberal Democrats have criticised Labour for not spending the cash.

Coun Martin Smith said: “It’s scandalous. That money should be spent on local improvements like road safety and parks, not left sitting in the bank. The council needs to honour its commitments to the public.”

Lib Dem Leader Shaffaq Mohammed added: “Labour bellyaches about austerity but they are sitting on a massive pot of money.

“Community groups could come up with a host of ideas on how this money would be spent. It’s incredibly frustrating, we urgently want the council to pull its fingers out and devolve this to local councillors to spend.”

Labour says the majority of the money is committed to projects and they are speeding up the process.

Council Leader Bob Johnson said: “We agree that everything should be done to speed up delivery of these projects, we have recently introduced a new reporting system to identify unspent money and get more projects moving forward.

“We are also making changes in the service so that we can get schemes like this implemented much faster. Some of these changes have been delayed due to Covid but will be important in addressing this issue.

“We want to get this money spent and the projects delivered and will continue to improve this.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.