We are reprinting this post from Wincanton News and Views because it impossible to share it. Many Horsington residents will support this move to end the long running farce, which has been Wincanton Town Council for the past few years. And it might jolt SSDC, in its final death throes, to hold proper face to face meetings, rather than the deadening stultfying Zoom.
“Below is an email we have just sent to South Somerset District Council following their abject failure to achieve anything desirable for Wincanton. In short I have asked for the remaining budget to be passed to Wincanton Town Council so the money is not wasted on more nonsense. The money needs to be spent on things that are long lasting and of benefit to Wincanton and it’s people, not pushing more housing and reducing parking spaces.
We are writing to you as the lead officer regarding the fiasco that is developing regarding the supposed “regeneration” of Wincanton.
The budget started off at £5.7 million pounds, this has since shrunk to £2.4 million, a cut of 58% whilst the District Council has increased the regeneration budgets in Chard and Yeovil, seemingly at Wincantons expense. We have been misled as to the reasons why, initially being told we didn’t know the difference between gross and net as though we didn’t understand basic finance. We were then told that despite it being made abundantly clear we wanted the Old Health Centre and the surrounding area regenerated as it forms the heart of Wincanton that £3 million had been allocated, with no authority from the elected members (Colin Winder and myself), towards a renovation of The White Horse. This was already being done by the owners and planning permission had been discussed for months providing the funds for its renovation. Then surprise surprise we were told that £3 million was being withdrawn from the budget as it was not needed for The White Horse. Clearly not true as The White Horse was under way privately and not in need of public funds, this appears to be a poor excuse to over halve Wincantons regeneration budget, it should also be noted that The White Horse still has had nothing done so if it was appropriate for that grant then it still is (but as we all know it never was).
Of the remaining £2.4 million left the District Council is trying to use it to fund events that should be directly funded by the District Council but instead of funding them they are attempting to take the monies from the regeneration budget, two recent examples being a grant to celebrate International Women’s Day and The Queens Platinum Jubilee, with both events it could be argued that the District Council should be adding its support but using the remaining regeneration budget to finance them is clearly inappropriate, even more since £3 million has been stripped from the budget.
Then, of course, the company employed to do the work in Yeovil and Wincanton, Midas Construction Ltd, has gone into liquidation. If proper due diligence had been done no doubt they would not have been given the contracts, companies don’t just go bust, their balance sheets tend to give you plenty of warning. Now we are told this work will have to be the tendered for again, as anyone involved in construction knows to re-tender for the work 2 years after the initial tender will result in about two thirds of the work actually being done for that sum of money given the rise in construction and material costs.
Many people in Wincanton expressed their beliefs that the District Council would fail to deliver anything meaningful or wanted in Wincanton (I note the Yeovil Refresh scheme has since been branded “Yeovil Depress” in the media). Despite the ward members requests that something meaningful should be delivered quickly to allay residents fears unfortunately they have been proved correct as all we can see is lots of money paying for officers time and consultants who’s main brief seems to have been pushing more housing into Wincanton and reducing the number of parking spaces.
Having discussed this fiasco between the Ward members we would suggest that all this money wasting is halted with immediate effect and that the £2.4 million is allocated to Wincanton Town Council to spend on projects that directly provide lasting improvements to the town and its people, to be agreed between the Town Council and Wincantons current District Ward Members and the two new Unitary Ward members, Lucy Trimnell and Tom Power.
The current proposals are not wanted and a waste of the money, Wincantons District members, Wincantons County members and Wincanton Town Council will have the interest in the town to ensure lasting meaningful achievements are made for the town.
We have a meeting on 24th May to discuss regeneration, I suggest this proposal is added to the agenda. We have little confidence in being able to attend the virtual meeting though as it is being held via Microsoft Teams meeting and so far every virtual meeting we have tried to attend via Microsoft has failed to work but this meeting is desperately needed.
I hope that everyone can see that the above proposal will allow Councillors directly elected by Wincanton people who all have Wincantons best interests at heart to ensure this money is not wasted, rather than Councillors in Yeovil and officers in Yeovil who have no direct interest in our Town, it is a great shame no-one listened to the requirements put forward by the locally elected Councillors in the first place.
Councillors Nick Colbert and Colin Winder”