Tuesday 28 June 2011

Report into Section 106 Accountability

This Thursday (30 June) the Audit and Governance Committee will have its inaugural meeting at which the long awaited results of an external investigation into Reading Borough Council’s management of Section 106 developer contributions will be discussed.  You can read the Committee report here, pages 11-16

Back in November 2009 Conservative councillors raised concerns with the then Director of Planning over the lack of accountability and the need for a robust system to handle Section 106 developer contributions (S106).

Investigations revealed that the then Labour-run administration had little interest in how S106’s were recorded or allocated, that departments had wildly varying standards of recording these financial contributions and that a number had been misused. S106’s are given to the council by developers to deal with the impact on the local community surrounding each development. Examples of how S106’s may be used legitimately are: increasing the capacity of the local school, providing new benches or play equipment to the nearby park - thereby reducing the extra pressure and making the development sustainable.

Under last year’s Conservative-led administration a new single system of properly recording and tracking S106 contributions was introduced. Following a lengthy internal investigation, my paper entitled RBC’s Usage and Accounting of Section 106 Receipts, and our Coalition partner's - the Lib Dems' - support, Council officers agreed to call in an outside team from Wokingham Borough Council for an independent investigation into past practices and to make recommendations for the future. The report makes a number of “High Priority” recommendations to address the failings of the earlier Labour administration, some of which our local Coalition administration had implemented already.

The meeting starts at 6.30 pm in Kennet Room at the Civic Centre.  The public are welcome to attend.