New Homes Bonus petition reaches its target to force discussion

By Tristan Harris Thursday 13 February 2014 Updated: 17/02 15:25

THE ISSUE of whether the Government’s New Homes Bonus should go to areas affected by extra development or the district as a whole will be discussed at a full Bromsgrove Council meeting after a petition amassed more than 1,500 signatures.

The Standard reported in October how Hagley Residents Action Group (HRAG) started collecting the list of names after feeling strongly that if properties were going to be built, any cash generated should go to those communities.

Now, since that launch, 1,450 signatures have been collected and - according to Bromsgrove District Council’s petitions scheme - documents which have received 1,250 signatures or more will be presented to a meeting of the council and can be scheduled for debate.

HRAG argues that if the cash was allocated to affected areas, it could make a huge difference to facilities such as community centres and halls, and groups such as scouts and guides, toddler groups, helplines, sports clubs.

HRAG has been working with several groups in a bid to drum up public support across Bromsgrove district - they include Catshill Marshes Action Group, Barnt Green Residents Association, Wythall Residents Association, Hopwood Residents Association.

HRAG spokesperson Peter Rowbottom said: “We wanted to get other residents’ groups on board as we are aware that we aren’t the only village to be in this situation – other areas within Bromsgrove district are similarly affected.

“They also feel that there is a lack of community and leisure infrastructure and support.

“This campaign is all about supporting local groups and maintaining social structure within communities.”

HRAG thanked everyone who had signed the petition, either on change.org or epetitions.net and also to the local businesses Spar, The Hagley Café and the Fitness Studio which allowed them to place paper petitions in their premises for people to sign who had no Internet access.

The group claimed from the Hagley developments, the 175 Cala Homes would result in Bromsgrove District Council receiving more than £1.3million from Central Government over the next six years and the 70-home Strathearn development will net another £500,000.

Other pending developments in Barnt Green, Catshill, Wythall and at Norton Farm, could net similar gains.

They also pointed out other councils, such as Wychavon, used the cash on community gardens, community kitchen refurbishments, money for local sports and children’s groups.

Rachel Jenkins, also of HRAG, added if funding was not available, many things which made village life so enjoyable would start to fall apart.

“However we are trying to remain optimistic that we can convince all the local stakeholders - the district and county councils, the local parish councils, landowners, our MP - to work together and invest some money into local schemes so we can protect the future of our villages and towns.”

A Bromsgrove District Council spokesperson said: “We look forward to receiving the petition and when this happens it will be put through the usual verification processes.”

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