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New homes bonus issue set to be debated after hundreds sign petition
8:00am Monday 17th February 2014 in Local
A CAMPAIGN group's petition has reached the number of signatures needed to trigger a debate on whether cash bonuses from new housing estates, should go back to the affected areas.
Hagley Residents Action Group (HRAG) launched its campaign after Bromsgrove District councillors voted to place money from the Government's New Homes Bonus scheme in a central district pot.
HRAG has been highlighting Cala Homes development, where the authority will see more than £1.3 million from the Government, with a further £500,000 for the neighbouring Strathearn development of 70 homes.
The group believed that if the cash went into the district pot it would be unclear where it was being spent and want an arrangement similar to neighbouring authority, Wychavon Council, where up to 40 per cent of the bonus is passed directly to community groups through a formal agreement.
A petition was launched, and has so far attracted 1450 signatures. This is beyond the 1250 required as a trigger to get the issue on the agenda at a full council meeting.
The group has been working with various residents groups in order to get public support for the petition including Catshill Marshes Action Group, Barnt Green Residents Association, Wythall Residents Association and Hopwood Residents Association.
Peter Rowbottom of HRAG 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 taken time to sign the petition on change.org or epetitions.net, and also to local businesses Spar, The Hagley Café and the Fitness Studio, that showed support by having paper copies for people to sign.
Fran Evans, a group spokesman, added: "Things will be tough if we don’t manage to obtain any funding – I think many of the things that make village life so enjoyable will start to fall apart.
"We are trying to remain optimistic that we can convince all the local stakeholders to work together and invest some money into local schemes so that we can protect the future of our villages and towns.”
A spokesman for Bromsgrove District Council said: “We look forward to receiving the petition and when this happens it will be put through the usual verification processes.”