Community Infrastructure Levy Neighbourhood Panel
Report of the Cabinet Member for Customer and Regulatory Services
The Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services presented the report, noting that it specifically concerned the smaller portion raised that had to be spent on local neighbourhoods, and the areas which were not automatically handed over to parish councils. They wanted an open and transparent process, and so were constituting a Neighbourhood Panel made up of five members. If the political balance of the council were to be strictly replicated, there would be four Lib Dem members and one opposition member, but instead they were taking a more pluralist approach with three Lib Dems and two others. The various members of the panel would be nominated by group leaders.
The panel was expected to advertise two funding rounds each year, although he noted that with only £77k in the pot at the moment, this was the default option for now. It aimed to be an open and transparent process, where the panel would prioritise the most deserving projects with officer support, taking into account corporate objectives and the impact of development. As a fall-back, the allocations would finally be approved by Cabinet, as it was public money that needed to be spent in a way that aligned with their corporate priorities.
The Terms of Reference differentiated between smaller projects requiring a less onerous process and larger projects that might need the county council as delivery agent, and would require a stricter process. He commended it to Cabinet and other authorities as a model for how to involve communities and ward councillors in a democratic, transparent process for spending what would hopefully in the future be a significant amount of money.
The Cabinet Member Housing thanked him for bringing this report forward, and recalled when it was first mentioned a year or so ago. Officers had been key to this, and she highlighted Tracey Birkinshaw’s work. Unparished areas lacked the voice that parished areas had, and it was notable that the map showing parished and unparished areas correlated strongly with the map of social deprivation in Cheltenham. She looked forward to the panels being created and hoped that bids could be submitted as early as spring 2023. She advocated community-enhancing projects, focusing on supporting wellbeing and play through infrastructure.
The Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services noted that the list of wards with parished and unparished areas might need to be slightly amended. He agreed that a number of wards in unparished areas had suffered historic deprivation, and it was good to have a pot of money focused on helping those communities.
The Cabinet Member Safety and Communities noted that some areas were only partly parished, which made it a confusing system. In terms of timescale, she asked whether it would it be possible for an unparished area to put a bid in for funding that covered more than one year. The Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services responded that the Neighbourhood Panel couldn’t prioritise funds that hadn’t been raised yet, so there were some constraints there. However, they could approve funding in principle before it was necessarily secured, in order to enable organisations to raise more money. The panel itself would look at these issues, supported by the relevant officers.
The Leader moved to the vote, where it was unanimously:
1. The Terms of Reference of the Cheltenham CIL Neighbourhood Panel be agreed;
2. Consultation with the relevant Group leaders in respect of the named representatives be delegated to the Corporate Director and Monitoring Officer;
3. The operational establishment of this panel be delegated to the Head of Planning, to be in place to review the first round of expressions of interest by spring 2023.