Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Regeneration money for Brookside

It is great news that Brookside is to receive funding of £6m from Telford & Wrekin Council for regeneration of the centre but it does come with a couple of "gotchas".

Firstly, the £6m is only for the centre of Brookside, it isn't intended to address any of the environmental problems in the south east part of the estate (roughly Burford to Bishopdale) that breed anti-social behaviour and crime.  It isn't intended to be used, for instance, to buy back the Brindleyford school site from the housing developers that have done nothing with it other than knock down the buildings for the last 5 years.

Secondly, I believe the intention is to borrow the money from a central fund.  That's what we were told when Councillor Davies came to one of our parish council meetings to give us a brief overview of what they intended to do in Brookside anyway.  I gave my opinion to Councillor Davies (well, you wouldn't expect anything else would you?) that if the council was going to borrow money for regeneration in Brookside then I felt it was important to do so on the principle that whatever the money was spent on would either generate revenue or result in cost savings that would outweigh the cost.

Anti-social behaviour costs money.  If some of the money can be spent on cutting anti-social behaviour by a significant amount it not only saves money in the cost of policing Brookside but encourages those people who would otherwise have spent their days drinking in the street and roaming the estate aimlessly causing a nuisance to be productive.  If some of the money can be spent on creating jobs and giving people the skills they need to get jobs then the taxpayer isn't paying them not to work.  Don't kid yourself that it's only the British government that bears the cost of unemployment either - free school meals, council tax rebates, etc. come out of Telford & Wrekin and Stirchley & Brookside's funds.  People don't need handouts, they need jobs and prospects.

I don't want to sound negative about this because that's certainly not my intention.  I welcome the long overdue investment in Brookside - we've been neglected by Telford & Wrekin for too long, under both Labour and the Tories.  But the money has got to be spent wisely because while £6m sounds like a lot of money, it won't go far - half of that money will easily disappear on architects and consultants.  The intention is for Brookside residents to decide where the money is spent so we all have a responsibility to make sure the money is spent wisely.