Carol Bradbury reports from Penistone Town Council meeting on December 15 2014.
Penistone Councillors came face to face with managers from Barnsley Council as they continued to press for answers to what had happened to £850,000 paid by developers for industrial units and a transport interchange in the town.
They had heard at an earlier meeting that some had gone to pay for factory units at Spring Vale. But they were told that part of the cash was paying the salary of a business development manager.
Andy Arnold, the development officer, and Paul Clifford, who works with the team allocating money paid by developers, knows as Section 106 money, told them there were four business development managers in the Barnsley borough. Three were paid for by European grants but one had been funded from Section 106 money.
Spending decisions like this were made by a Strategic Planning Committee, which had spent £1m in the Penistone East and West areas. The team also looks at external funding. They said they work with 49 businesses in the area and have provided 473 coaching days. Another £165,000 was being allocated to five further factory units at Spring Vale..
However, Penistone councillors asked why local representatives on Barnsley Council were not being informed about the work of the business team and appointment of Mr Arnold, who has been in the job since 2012. Councillors said it was vital that they be kept informed.
Councillors were also worried that affordable housing in Penistone is not always built due to legal loopholes. Penistone is expected to increase its population by 25 per cent and 1300 houses over the next 20 years. Town councillors said there needed to be some mechanism to ensure builders do not get round planning rules which say 25pc of homes should be affordable, particularly as this is expected to increase to 30pc. Major concerns were that there is only one route out of Penistone which is already causing congestion.
- Councillors were concerned about reports that Penistone Police Station is to close, leaving no station at the West of the borough. They are to ask the police Divisional Commander to attend a meeting for questioning.
- Coun Steve Webber and Andrew Millner, who led development of the town’s community-led Parish Plan, which has been bypassed by the Localism Act, have proposed a Neighbourhood Plan. It would not stop housing development but give local people an input as to where they go. Coun. Harry Barron suggested the idea was a waste of money. The matter is to be discussed at the next meeting of the Development and Regeneration committee with a view to applying for a grant from Planning Aid.
- A new countryside skills initiative has been put into place to teach youngsters dry stone walling and forestry skills.
- Equipment has arrived for the Town toilets and will be put in after Christmas.
- The council thanked employees for all their hard work regarding the Christmas Lights, which they reiterated were paid for by Penistone Town Council.