Cash questions left unanswered

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RESIDENTS fighting to secure a primary school on their estate have been told a request for information on how a council has spent public money would “take too long”.

People living on Middlemore are trying to challenge plans by Daventry District Council to build homes on a site originally earmarked for a primary school.

The residents group put in a Freedom of Information request to the council seeking details on payments made by developers to fund community infrastructure (known as section 106 money).

Tamlyn Coleman is a member of the residents group. He said: “Ultimately we’re being told by the district council that they want to build homes as there’s no money for a school.

“We’ve been told by some that no section 106 money was requested for education – if so how did the council get away with that?

“Others have said money was received, which we as residents have paid as it was added to the cost of our houses.

“The council told us it would take too long to compile the information as some of it is on paper records. But officers told us DDC received money and it has ‘mostly’ been spent, so someone knows what’s going on.

“I can’t believe there’s not an audit trail, particularly at a public body. If they can’t keep electronic records going back 10 years, when there would have been computers, then that’s a worry for any taxpayer.”

Maria Taylor, community manager at DDC, said: “At present it would take far more than 18 hours to respond to this request, as although some of the section 106 agreements are stored on a computer system, many others are on paper records dating back to 2001.

“For this reason we are currently working towards collating all our section 106 data and are in the process of creating a section 106 database, which members of the public will be able to access via self-service, and this project is likely to take 12 months to complete.”