Independents call for further scrutiny of £4.3m spend to open up Top Wighay site

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An opposition group has called for extra checks on a Nottinghamshire Council decision to spend £4.3 million to help start development at the major Top Wighay Farm project.

The council approved a delegated decision outlining how the cash will unlock the land, between Linby and Hucknall, for hundreds of houses, a council office and other community facilities like a school – delegated decisions are taken outside of council meetings, meaning they are not debated in public.

A report on the plan said the major site was on track for development with housebuilder Vistry likely to submit detailed plans next month, while construction and building work on the site – including a road and roundabout – is expected to cost the council £4.078m over the next two years.

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A further £305,012 will fund professional fees for the wider Top Wighay project, such as site surveys.

The Top Wighay development site.The Top Wighay development site.
The Top Wighay development site.
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However, the Independent Alliance opposition group has “called in” the decision for review, claiming the Conservative-led authority is not being “transparent”.

In a letter to Marjorie Toward, council monitoring officer, the group said council reports included “no detail other than general costings on how this money will be spent”.

It also said there was “no guarantee this work will be carried out on budget”, or details of how the spending ties in with the £15.7m budget for a planned new council office building on the land.

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The letter, penned by Coun Dave Shaw, was co-signed by Coun John Wilmott, Coun Lee Waters, Coun Tom Hollis and Coun Steve Carr.

It said: “It is our view a key decision made spending more than £4m of taxpayers’ money should be made with all facts considered by all councillors and therefore the council is not being transparent.

“It is not clear whether the £4,38m is part of the overall £15.7m budgeted for the new office project.

“It is our collective view that costs relating to Top Wighay are spiralling out of control and this call-in is necessary before any more public money is wasted.”

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In response, the authority confirmed the £4.3m is included in the wider £15.7m budget and said the call-in is currently being reviewed by Ms Toward and the democratic services department.

Once complete, the wider site is expected to feature the new council building, a school and at least 805 homes.

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