A WISH to 'spend taxpayers' money wisely' is the reason why cash has not been splashed out excessively on coronavirus safety measures in Bromsgrove, say council chiefs.

Liberal Democrat councillors had claimed Bromsgrove District Council had spent less than 10 per cent of allocated funds on Covid measures in the district's high streets - but the council says that accusation is misleading.

The council says the maximum funding available from the Government was £89,000 - but it has claimed just £8,000 to be prudent as the money is still coming from the taxpayers' purse.

Council leader Cllr Karen May said: “Firstly, to clarify, we haven’t ‘underspent’ as the Council was not ‘given’ the pot of cash to use as we wish.

"Rather there was strict criteria, set by Government, on how we could claim against the maximum available which was £89,000.

“As this is still taxpayers’ money we wanted to ensure we spent it wisely and at the same time using it to put in place the relevant safety measures like signs and hand sanitisers at sites which were earmarked in our plans which are constantly reviewed.

“We were able to use our in-house design team and print brokerage processes which helped us to keep these costs down and the money will not be returned to Government, as we were never given it in the first place.”

Liberal Democrat group leader Rob Hunter, though, claimed more is needed to be done to make high streets Covid-secure using Reopening High Streets Safely Fund cash.

Cllr Hunter said: “Our local businesses have worked incredibly hard to reopen in a Covid secure way and I’m pleased that we were able to get public health measures such as free hand sanitiser put in to support their efforts.

"With a second wave now sadly looking increasingly likely it is vital we do everything we can to avoid businesses having to close again. The time to invest funds to support our local shops is now.”

Bromsgrove Lib Dem Chair Josh Robinson, who works on the town centre high street, added: “As a shop worker myself, I know how hard it has been for small and local shops on the high street."