Note: This article, by a member of the Long Leys community, does not represent the views of the LLRA committee.
How do we work out how best to spend the section 106 money held by Lincolnshire County Council, on behalf of the Long Leys community, following the sale of the Tanglewood site? What’s the best project? It’s very easy to spend money, but very hard to spend it wisely. Many of us have ideas, but how can we make sure we pick the best project or projects?
First, the facts. There is around £70,000; it earns interest; and another seven years or so must pass before it can be spent elsewhere. It was provided specifically because the Tanglewood sale involved demolishing a facility that could be used by the community, and the suggestion was that the money should be spent to help replace some of the benefits provided by that facility. There is some flexibility, but spending must benefit the community in a significant way – it’s not just a gift for us to do whatever we want with. The County Council will not let us spend it on things that should be funded in other ways, by other bodies, or on projects of questionable benefit to the community.
This means that there is no urgency. The money is not going away, and the sum is actually growing as time passes. We have time to think long and hard about different ways to spend the money. Here’s one way we could evaluate different projects…
We should spend the money so that it…
- does the greatest good
- to the greatest number
- for the greatest time.
Please note the spending examples under these headings below are NOT serious suggestions! Indeed some of them – dividing the money between us, or a great party, for example – would not be allowed by the Council. Others are probably too expensive to pursue. These examples are just there to illustrate what I mean by the greatest good, the greatest number, and the greatest time, and not spending suggestions.
The greatest good
Let’s say there is exactly £70k, and exactly 1,000 residents. Let’s give everyone £70 and call it done! Some people would benefit from this small gift, but for many it would just pay this bill, or save using that card at Tesco. It would quickly be forgotten. We should look for a way that gives us something we can all use, benefit from, enjoy on a regular basis, and remember. Something that we don’t have now, and would like.
The greatest number
What proportion of the community should benefit? The more the better. Here’s a dream… Let’s buy a field and build a solar farm, sell the electricity to the Grid and divide the money between us. Cheaper energy bills forever, for every Long Leys resident! Alternatively, let’s take that same field and build tennis courts and bowling greens. Some people would love it – others might never visit. In this example, the solar farm wins by benefiting more people.
The greatest time
How long will the benefit last? Let’s hire a good hall, lay on a fantastic meal and some top-class entertainment. Assume everyone comes. But before the night is over, all the money is spent, never to be seen again. Then think again of my dream field; let’s plant a community orchard, other trees, some flower borders, perhaps build a bandstand and some public loos, and develop ‘Long Leys Park’ to challenge Lincoln’s Arboretum. It would last for generations.
Finally, one last important consideration brings these three together. How can whatever we spend the money on be self-funding in the future, even revenue generating? It would make no sense to spend it on something we can’t afford to run or maintain.
To bring the story back to a community facility, if we could achieve that, it becomes a centre for coffee mornings, ‘bring and buy’ sales, produce fairs, and more – all ways to help fund the building’s running costs. And throughout Lincoln, groups are looking for venues for keep fit classes, dance groups, slimming clubs, choirs, and more. Again this brings in revenue – maybe even enough to fund that great party every now and then…
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John Thorpe says
I was wondering about ring fencing some of it to pay for the website and printing and disseminating newsletters for a number of years.
Chris Taylor says
Thanks John – certainly something to think about when the time comes. It’s worth mentioning that at the moment this website, like the StopVeolia website, is funded by private donations.
Deborah Lisseman says
Thanks John T. I definitely agree with the ring fencing of some funds for future events, printing requirements and general admin. costs. Having this website is something the LLRA have wanted for a while but did not have the skills to build. Now here are some great guys with the skills to do that and, although at present there is no charge, that will need to be addressed.
John Shipton says
As my memory recalls, was not a list made which Deborah compiled on the St Georges Forum. Also arranging a- walk- about followed on by a public meeting.
Chris Taylor says
Hi John, Thanks for your comment. This piece was not to support any one idea over any other, but rather to consider a process how to move forward if or when that happens! We will always end up with many more ideas than we can afford and will need a way of assessing them that is as transparent as possible. We welcome input on the main criteria that should be used. I am suggesting projects that:
– do the greatest good
– for the greatest number
– for the greatest time.
I think the “walkabout” is primarily to allow likely costs of some of the ideas to be assessed before a wider community consultation; also some of the original ideas may not be able to be funded by section 106 money (some suggested maintenance items would already be the responsibility of the City/County Councils and it is helpful to draw these to their attention).
Watch this website for further articles in coming weeks which will try and present existing ideas as well as giving the opportunity for further suggestions to be made.
Deborah Lisseman says
Thanks John S. Yes the walkabout should take place this month, I’l let people know when. The area from the top of Higson Steps to Whittons Park encompasses many of the ideas put forward from the bike lip to enhancing or bringing back the wildlife area (though this could be a great community project too!). There wasn’t going to be a public meeting immediately after the walkabout as all the ideas need to be looked at/costed before any decisions are made. As Chris has said in his article, there is no rush to spend the money, it just needs to be used within 7 years. Then, there may be nothing, hence also trying to find ideas that could provide income
Deborah Lisseman says
(See also other 106 articles)
I am postponing the walkabout with council representatives and members of the community. I feel, since I’m standing down, and with the AGM coming up very soon (23 May), that it will be an opportunity and more sensible for relationships to be built with the people that will be looking at the 106 ideas long term. The maintenance/council responsibility items mentioned can also be addressed at that time.