There were we dumb souls here at the Waverley Web believing that CIL payments made by developers towards community projects were sacrosanct.
Monies ring-fenced for community projects and infrastructure improvements in the towns and villages where development occurred.
We now know that more than £1million in payments made by developers has been wiped out by Woking Borough Council’s bankruptcy!
There were we simple souls who believed that when developers were obliged to dig deep into their deep pockets to provide (CIL) Community Infrastructure Levies, the money held by councils belonged to the communities where development had taken place. Well, so far, so good; it may be so in Waverley, but not in Woking.
So, will ‘Your Waverley’ officers please tell us – How much CIL money you hold? And where is it held?
When the bean counters searched the council’s accounts, all was revealed. The cupboard was bare of CIL when the horrifying deficit of £ 1.2 billion and £11m annual budget shortfall was revealed.
So has the interim chief finance officer’s response to questions about where the money had gone opened up an actual can of worms. Just as a matter of interest, he, too, has now left the authority.
Brendan Arnold said: “The practice nationally, as far as I’m aware, in all councils that I have been associated with is to keep the sums, as with many others, which are part of reserves and other balances held on the council;’s balance sheet, on a separate ledger account.
In short, to Mind The Gap – the massive gap in Woking’s finances, the distribution of CIL has been paused.
So all those areas of Woking that endured huge developments and who had hoped they might see infrastructure improvements now have to wait for the council’s finances to improve.
He said the £1.2m deficit was the largest charge of any revenue account of its kind in UK Local Government – and had effectively wiped out the value of any cash the council may have had.”
He stressed that the council would honour its commitments through CIL but had to deal with its crushing debt before it could do so.”