Friday, 12 December 2014

The truth about Streatham's Neighbourhood Enhancement Programme

Once again, it seems that Streatham's newly elected Labour councillors aren't being completely straight with local people.

This time they are saying they have "lobbied hard" for the Neighbourhood Enhancement Programme to come for Streatham (see this tweet from  Cabinet Member Jennifer Braithwaite).  See also this tweet from Cllr Amelie Trespass.

The Neighbourhood Enhancement Programme has long been promised to Streatham.  It relies on funds from external sources to the Council such as TfL (see here for more about it).  The budget for an area is usually in the region of £230,000 as the link makes clear, and is spent on environmental improvements like greenery, cycle parking, new signage etc...

But the funds for Streatham's 'new' Neighbourhood Enhancement Programme were actually already given to Streatham via the Section 106 Agreement for the Streatham Hub development. This was agreed several years ago. This was long before May's elections when Streatham's Labour councillors were elected, and had a lot to do with lobbying by local residents.

Cllr Scott Ainslie put in a Members Enquiry back in October, to make sure the Section 106 funds were in place and had been transferred as planned to the Council (as some of them had appeared to have gone missing!).  He asked in detail about all the Section 106 money from the Streatham Hub development.

This was the response on 4th November:

£250,000 toward environmental improvements on Streatham High Road

To contribute £250,000 towards Streatham NEP (Neighbourhood Enhancement Programme).
The scheme development is planned to commence in 2015/16 for implementation in 2016/17.

We circulated this Council response in its entirety to residents about a month ago - along with a breakdown of all the other funds from the Section 106 development - so local people should be under no illusions that this quarter of a million pounds is the result of "lobbying by Streatham's newly elected councillors"!

It is in fact a result of a lot of lobbying by local people prior to the Streatham Hub Development.

We'll also be keeping a close eye on the other pots of money which have already been allocated to Streatham, but which may also be claimed as a result of "lobbying for the Neighbourhood Enhancement Programme".

Here are a few pots already allocated a couple of years ago, but not yet spent:

1. £50,000 for Improvement to Streatham Station (see here for more on how this will be spent)
2. £124,000 for improved street lighting
3. £50,000 towards the provision of real time bus information
4. £220,000 toward the conducting of an area-wide traffic study
5. £135,000 toward the conducting of a study into the benefits of controlled parking zones

Expect that the allocated money from the Megabowl development and the council's roads programme may also be repackaged as the "Neighbourhood Enhancement Programme" in other areas of Streatham.

Why is this important? It means that Streatham is not getting the "new money" that other areas of Lambeth have received for their Neighbourhood Enhancement Programmes. It is simply getting old money, already allocated to Streatham, but now repackaged and presented as new money, so Lambeth Council can say "you've had your Neighbourhood Enhancement Programme". Once again, it seems, Streatham is being sold short.

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