Section 106 payments are contributions that developers make to the Council to lessen the impact of their new buildings, and are supposed to be spent on new roads, or kids' playgrounds and stuff. The whole 106 scheme has come under fire because, as The Observer newspaper noted, it `lacks transparency and fosters corruption'.
The Internal Audit found that there was a "lack of publicly available information"…a "lack of a single database that collates all Section 106 information" and a lack of "a specific officer to monitor and co-ordinate section 106 activities". The audit adds that "due to insufficient monitoring arrangements and information systems the council has failed to meet the terms of the majority of obligations reviewed".
For years Section 106 monies have been a contentious issue – for instance, there has been none paid at all for any of Peel Holdings' developments at Media City. Now the Council is attempting to formalise Section 106 agreements with a number of new obligations that have to be met.
It's doing this, not for the benefit of the community particularly, but because they fear developers might "mount a legal challenge" to get their money back where their payments have not been "spent in line with the requirements of the Section 106 agreement" or "used on a scheme that mitigates the impacts of that development"…Which all beggars the question – well, what the hell has the money been spent on?
The Salford Star would love to pass on the rumours as to where it's been spent but we can't back it up in fact. Yet. Meanwhile, as of July this year, 20% of the money hasn't been committed to anything, and, according to the Council's accounts for 2008-9, £6.428million of the Section 106 monies is still swishing around waiting to be spent.
Interestingly, the Council itself doesn't seem to know much about Section 106 monies because the agreements all seem to be handled by Urban Vision – its joint venture company with private firms, Capita Symonds and Morrison Highways Maintenance.