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West Somerset MP asked to explain Hinkley C comments
A SPEECH made by West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger in the House of Commons has caused confusion and anger among some district councillors.
He was invited to join West Somerset Council’s (WSC) latest meeting to explain what he meant when he said it should share business rates from
Hinkley Point C with
Sedgemoor District Council and Somerset County Council.
The Government plans to allow local authorities to keep some of the business rate money paid in their regions from April next year.
When the nuclear power plant starts generating electricity, WSC will be the only local authority in line to benefit from a share of the estimated £10million a year business rates due from Hinkley Point C under this scheme, as the site lies within its boundaries.
This will be a lifeline for the council, which is struggling to make ends meet.
A separate community benefit fund proposed by the Government could see cash pooled from extra business rates and shared between councils.
In his speech, Mr Liddell-Grainger said it was unfair on all three councils for all business rates to go to the treasury.
He added: “Everybody knows that the only way to get heavy traffic in and out of Hinkley is via Bridgwater and the M5.
“Therefore, although West Somerset District Council will suffer some disruption, most will be borne by Sedgemoor District Council and Somerset County Council.”
Cllr Kate Kravis, lead member for finance, voiced her concerns that he had implied money from the general business rate scheme, not the additional pool, should be shared between the three councils.
She said: “I don’t understand the rationale for sharing the retention of business rates across the district.”
But Mr Liddell-Grainger said: “I suggested no split and there never would be.
“If you feel I have slighted this council, I apologise unreservedly but I didn’t mean to do that.”
The debate ended on a positive note, with councillors voting to thank Mr Liddell-Grainger for his pledge to work on West Somerset’s behalf and to welcome confirmation that the reference in his speech related not to the general business rate scheme but to the additional scheme.
Councillors also agreed that the beneficiaries of the additional community benefit retention scheme should be affected communities West Somerset and Sedgemoor.
Finally, they agreed to go forward with a full, open and transparent partnership with the other Somerset authorities, the MP and EDF Energy.