Council was “morally wrong” to take village’s cash

Sutton Bridge residents took a coffin to the council chamber in their power station protest in July. SG230714-114TW
Sutton Bridge residents took a coffin to the council chamber in their power station protest in July. SG230714-114TW

South Holland District Council was “morally wrong” to pay one of its own officer’s wages – some £24,000 – from a pot of cash given to benefit Sutton Bridge.

But the village can’t claim that Section 106 cash back from the £1million power station fund because the district council didn’t act illegally.

Sutton Bridge Parish Council is opposing plans for two more power stations on its patch.

But, if those new power stations are built, parish councillors have been warned to carefully check the wording of any Section 106 agreements so the cash doesn’t end up in the district council’s coffers.

The parish council had to submit a series of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to the district council before it was finally told this summer that power station fund cash paid the wages of capital projects officer Richard Baggaley, who was closely associated with the failed Red Lion Quarter project in Spalding.

The parish council had asked for the £24,000 to be handed back and was also concerned that interest earned on the £1million may not have been credited back to the fund to benefit Sutton Bridge.

Parish councillor Phil Scarlett and an auditor have checked the wording of the Section 106 agreement and found there was nothing to stop the district council dipping into it. Clerk Suzanne England told Tuesday’s parish council meeting: “They said if any other such agreements are arranged, we should be very careful to check the arrangements.

“They (South Holland District Council) have made a lot of money out of Sutton Bridge’s Section 106 fund.”

Parish and district councillor Chris Brewis said: “They may not have done anything illegal but to try and pay an officer’s salary is morally wrong.

“They always use our money to benefit Spalding.”

The parish council decided to drop its fight to have the cash returned, but members wanted their “disappointment” noted.

Villagers opposed to EnergyPark Sutton Bridge’s plan for a wood-burning, biomass power station will be in Long Sutton on Friday morning to hand out information leaflets about the potential threats it may pose.

The Wash and Sutton Bridge Protection Group is concerned about fires and explosions at similar plants and the risk of harmful emissions from its chimneys together with those from the existing gas-fired power station and EDF’s proposed Sutton Bridge B .

The parish council is also concerned about the combined emissions from three massive power plants with a total of 17 chimneys and is considering installing its own air-quality monitor in the village.

The district council monitors some emissions but can’t measure particulates over a certain size.