CONNED!!! Town Council Admit There Was No Agreement In Place To Control Millions Of Pounds Of Community Benefits From Mass House-Building
3rd March 2016 by Peter Chapman
Oh dear residents of Burgess Hill. A freedom of information request to Burgess Hill Town Council has revealed that there was no formal agreement in place for BHTC to control £80 million of monies generated from the construction of 4,000 new homes in the town to pay for a range of attractive new facilities to benefit the town's residents - this, despite a cast-iron guarantee from the town council leader Andrew Barrett-Miles. When asked via the FOI request for details of the agreement between the town and district council, BHTC's headline response was:
No formal agreement of the nature described was ever entered into. The figure of £40million referred to in the Town Wide Strategy is an estimated figure of Project costs and what might be received over and above section 106 funding.
Let's Start From The Beginning....
Back in 2010, The town council came up with a town-wide strategy which would see Burgess Hill take 4,000 new homes in return for millions of pounds to make improvements to the town. It was met with the approval of just a few hundred residents in an unofficial poll (which could have been rigged)
In October 2012, At a public meeting organised by the Burgess Hill Action Group, Council leader Andrew Barrett-Miles gave a 'cast-iron' guarantee that we'd get all the money (£80 million) from the proposed developments and that it would be controlled by the town council via a commuity interest company of which town councillors would be the directors.
In April 2013 at the annual town meeting at Cyprus Hall, when questioned by a member of the Burgess Hill Action Group, Andrew Barrett-Miles told the audience that he 'hoped' we'd get the money.
In October 2015, Andrew Barrett-Miles spoke at a public meeting regarding the Martlets Shopping Centre and when talking about a potential Martlets Hall replacement and other money for Burgess Hill, he said that the town council would have to fight against other local parishes (Ansty and Hurstpierpoint) to get hold of the development money from MSDC. He even said that members of the public would have to apply for grants if they wanted to see new facilities in the town! (Note: We have a full audio recording of every word that Andrew Barrett-Miles said)
How Far We've Fallen, from a guaranteed £80 million that the town would control, to having to go cap in hand to MSDC, begging for money.
What Really Happened?
Did Andrew Barrett-Miles deliberately mislead us? Or has he since had the rug pulled out from underneath him by Mid Sussex District Council once the job of pacifying the public was somewhat achieved?
BHU's Freedom Of Information Request
The whole purpose of BHU's Freedom Of Information Request was to get to the bottom of the money situation, to find out when and why the arrangements changed.
However, Burgess Hill Town Council seem to think that they have a choice when it comes to releasing information and have chosen NOT to hand over any documentation - claiming it doesn't exist. Just who are they protecting and under whose orders?
We've now requested an internal review of the council's response to our Freedom Of Information request..... no doubt to be conducted by the same member of staff that dealt with our original request.
Ultimately it will end up going to the Information Commisioner for review, and that could take many months.
What Now For Cllr Andrew Barrett-Miles?
With official confirmation that no agreeement was in place for Burgess Hill Town Council to receive and control a 'cast-iron guaranteed £80 million', where does this leave Andrew Barrett-Miles?
He's leader of the town council, a district councillor, a county councillor, a member of the Burgess Hill Development Board, Chairman of the Burgess Hill Town Centre Partnership and sits on various planning committees. Everything in this town comes back to one man.....and look where it's got us.
Is it time for Andrew Barrett-Miles to completely resign from all of his posts over this affair?
Why not take part in our poll....
It's certainly going to make for a VERY interesting annual town meeting on Wednesday April 13th 19:30 at Cyprus Hall.
Spread the word. The Burgess Hill public have been deceived in a major way
Got an opinion on this story? Leave a comment below.... How do you feel about being hoodwinked over the guaranteed money for Burgess Hill and who will be controlling it? Is it time for Andrew Barrett-Miles to resign?