NEVER again will Swindon residents lose out on development cash, the council has pledged.

As reported in the Adver yesterday, legal complications meant £18.4m in funds from housing developers could never be spent.

It should have been used years ago to upgrade roads and develop facilities around Haydon in north Swindon, where the developers have built thousands of homes.

But the council was forced to renegotiate the deal for £3.8m less, because the original agreement was such a dud.

But it has told the Adver that it won’t happen again.

In a statement, a spokesman said the circumstances of the original deal were “highly unusual, and date back over 10 years.”

“Swindon Council has acted to renegotiate the agreements, and has secured £14m which can be spent, whereas the agreements as they were – which were theoretically valued at £18m – were written in a way which left the council unable to spend anything.”

The deal was a Section 106 agreement, where developers agree to hand over cash in exchange for councils letting work begin.

The statement went on: “We have built up considerable expertise in Section 106 issues and are now one of the leading councils in the country in this regard, which is why we were able to renegotiate the agreement rather than lose it.

“We can say with confidence that a similar situation will not arise as a result of Section 106 contracts we have negotiated.”

North Swindon’s Conservative MP, Justin Tomlinson, left no doubt about who was to blame for the original deal, signed in 2000 when Labour led the council.

“The abject failure of the former Labour council at the conception of the northern expansion has seen us, the local residents, miss out on crucial Section 106 money,” he said.

“It’s essential that we do not miss out on any additional money that’s available and this should be released and spent for the benefit of the local community as quickly and appropriately as possible.

“It’s for local residents to then shape how section 106 money is spent. I’d welcome any measure to empower the local community to make this decision.”

Around £700,000 of the £14.6m which has been renegotiated by the council is soon to be released for spending.

Ward councillors are gathering feedback from the community in Haydon, to learn where the money can be best spent.

Haydon residents with ideas on how to use this first tranche of cash are advised to contact their ward councillors.