I have tabled a small amendment to the Planning Bill which would include “policing and emergency services facilities” in the list of “infrastructure” that may be funded from the proposed new Community Infrastructure Levy.  This modest proposal makes sense (I would say that wouldn’t I): major new developments are likely to require additional emergency facilities.  A new housing estate or a big new shopping complex may require a new police office, fire station or ambulance base, and it is legitimate that the developers should be asked to fund this.

My amendment would be to Clause 202 of the Bill.  This is a list of seven items that the term “infrastructure” includes.  Listed are schools, medical facilities, open spaces, sports facilities and flood defences, but nothing about the emergency services.

At the request of the Minister, I have now met with a civil servant from the Department of Communities and Local Government to discuss the amendment.  The civil service line is that the list is not meant to be exhaustive and that, if the list is too long, the Courts may interpret it as exhaustive.  DCLG is clear, he says, that the emergency services should be classed as part of “infrastructure”.  However, I point out that a number of local councils are already saying that the first call on monies from the Levy should be items specifically listed in the Bill.  His argument seems to be that if emergency services are included on the face of the Bill they may be less likely to be funded.  I am not sure I follow the logic …

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