A PETITION on the new homes bonus was presented to members of Bromsgrove District Council at its latest meeting.

During the meeting, held on Wednesday, (April 16), the petition requesting that New Homes Bonus money is reallocated to communities directly affected by new housing development following public consultation, was considered.

Hagley Residents Action Group (HRAG) launched its campaign after councillors voted to place money from the Government's New Homes Bonus scheme in a central district pot.

The group's petition attracted 1,400 signatures, beyond the 1,250 required as a trigger to get the issue on a full council agenda.

Lead petitioner Peter Rowbottom, from HRAG, presented the petition. He said the fact this was the first time a petition had ever attracted the number of signatures needed, demonstrated constituent's depth of feeling on the issue.

He added he hoped councillors would support a change in policy.

Council chairman June Griffiths explained as a decision had previously been made, she was proposing a cross party working group be set up to look at it again.

It was suggested the council leader, opposition leaders, and potentially a community representative be involved.

This was passed following a vote.

Early on in the meeting, Councillor Roger Hollingworth spoke on his recent announcement he was stepping down as leader after May.

He said he wanted to thank councillors and officers, and praised the previous opposition leader Councillor Peter McDonald for the assistance he had given.

Members also discussed a recent decision to make a £50,000 contribution from Section 106 monies towards the cost of an astroturf pitch at Bromsgrove Cricket,Tennis and Hockey Club.

It was explained a decision had already been taken as the club needed the funds so it could apply to Sport England for sufficient funds before a March deadline, so member's approval could not have been gained before.

During discussions it appeared councillors were broadly supportive of the decision. Coun McDonald raised whether there would be proper communal use of the pitch, and Mr Hollingworth assured members this had been agreed.

A fiery discussion took place over a motion proposing the authority support the principle of replacing the Dolphin Centre, and for officers to prepare costed proposals for a free swimming scheme.

The leader of the opposition Labour group, Councillor Luke Mallett, proposed the motion saying it would be a commitment to the future of the leisure centre and give the authority the opportunity to consider introducing free swimming for under 16's and residents over 60.

But Mr Hollingworth, and other Conservative councillors, described the motion as pure electioneering and a waste of time because the authority has already budgeted to build the new School Drive-based Dolphin Centre.

A business case - including designs, facilities and costs - is expected to be presented to the authority in June.

A vote was take and the motion was thrown out.