Buckingham Town Council have hit out at Aylesbury Vale District Council over plans to use developer money for the installation of a soft play facility at the Swan pool.
At a town council meeting this week, a proposal by the district council to use £58,800 from the Section 106 fund (money for community use from house builders) to fully fund the installation of the equipment, along with air conditioning and a new floor was discussed.
Councillors highlighted that the proceeds from the sale of the climbing wall were not being used to offset the cost of the new installation and expressed discomfort with Section 106 funds being used to provide facilities for a commercial provider in competition with local businesses.
The town council also concluded that in their opinion insufficient market research had been carried out to evidence demand for the service proposed and highlighted that they were still waiting for the district council to upgrade the skate park and start work on a BMX track.
Buckingham's mayor Mark Cole said: "This is yet another example of AVDC deciding for Buckingham what it thinks it wants.
"We have for years been putting our Section 106 contributions wish list before AVDC, with the BMX track - which would be on public land and free-of-charge to users - at the top of the urgent priorities.
"We cannot therefore support this money being allocated to a commercial business facility for which users would be charged.”
In response, Paul Irwin, the district council's cabinet member for environment and leisure said: "Buckingham Town Council will be aware that S106 funds have previously been used to benefit Swan pool and leisure centre, including money to help with the upgrade of the changing rooms.
"In addition, S106 funds have been used to help with renovations of Aylesbury’s Aqua Vale swimming and fitness centre.
"In other words, it is not unusual for S106 funds to be awarded to council-owned properties that are managed by commercial operators.
“In terms of demand for a children’s soft play area, Everyone Active, who is the operator at Swan Pool & leisure centre, has developed a business case which shows that there is sufficient demand from parents for the play area at the centre.
“As for the proposed BMX track, we have previously informed Buckingham Town Council that we do not have any land that we feel appropriate to site a BMX track, but that they are very welcome to complete and submit a S106 authorisation form if they wish to site such a facility on their land (e.g Bourton Park). An application form has not been received to date.
“Regarding the skate park, we received over £100k earlier in the year towards a new skate park from the Hamilton Precision development (situated at 10 Tingewick Road, Buckingham).
"This money, plus additional S106 funds, will be required together with a masterplan for the current skate park area before the project can progress.
"It is also worth noting that skate parks can be also used by BMX riders.
“We are very keen to work in collaboration with Buckingham Town Council on understanding their priorities for the allocation of S106 funding, and have been seeking to do this for some time.”