Money given by developers to promote Highbridge town centre has been ‘whisked away for other projects’, according to a group of local councillors.
When Asda opened its Highbridge store, the developer had to pay just under £612,000 to “promote the viability and vitality of Highbridge Town Centre and to fulfil regeneration priorities” identified by Sedgemoor District Council.
However, since 2006, things have gone quiet about where the funding has been spent, prompting local Liberal Democrat town councillor John Parkes to investigate.
John says: “Highbridge is a town with great pressures on its town centre, so any money for regeneration would be warmly welcomed.”
John asked several questions about the funding at the latest Sedgemoor District Council meeting and says he is “dismayed” where the funding has gone.
He claims: “£182,062 has disappeared into Somerset County Council’s Education budget, £30,000 went to the maintenance of traffic lights, and £399,868.15 is being held by Sedgemoor Council for as yet unidentified projects but intended to make paths and cycleways from Springfield Road to Isleport Business Park and from Worston Lane to the recreational facilities at Isleport Ponds.”
He continued: “This is a scandal! Exactly how does almost £400,000 on ponds and footpaths ‘promote the viability and vitality of Highbridge Town Centre’?”
“Has that £182,000 been spent on Highbridge schools? Who made the decision that this was the best use of our money? There were three Conservative Burnham Councillors on the Planning Committee at the time – didn’t they know what was going on?”
Burnham-On-Sea.com has invited Sedgemoor District Council to comment.
Pictured: Highbridge Asda and, above, councillors Fiona Hector (left) and John Parkes (right) with candidate Victoria Weavell (centre)