Camden Conservatives’ dispute over cash for South End Green Streatery
- Credit: Archant
Conservative councillors in Hampstead were at loggerheads this summer over thousands of pounds set for South End Green’s ‘streatery’, with one demanding businesses stump up the costs themselves.
When the scheme opened in August it was thought the £13,000 project would be funded by the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), money Camden Council receives from large developments.
Cllr Stephen Stark objected to moves by his fellow Tory councillors Oliver Cooper and Maria Higson to use the cash for the scheme. Costs were instead borne in the interim by Zara restaurant owner Hasan Demir.
Cllr Stark said he initially agreed that the cash pot should be used to close the slip road used by the 168 bus, rather than for the streatery itself. He said his position changed when it became clear the slip road could not be closed.
This newspaper has seen an email from him to council officials on September 8, saying the fund should not be used for the project. At the time it was unlikely the slip road would be closed for this year’s scheme.
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Cllr Stark said he was unaware of the application for the money until it was submitted on September 8.
He said he now supports the funding and praised the streatery’s success, but believed businesses should stump up half of the cost. He has asked the town hall to scrutinise the spending.
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“If it’s 50/50, you get better use of public money and CIL money. It means costs are kept down,” Cllr Stark said.
“Should the council pay for tables and chairs for all restaurants in Hampstead? There is a need to understand what we’re paying for. That’s why I was interested to see what the CIL application was for.”
Cllr Cooper said: “The funding Cllr Higson and I agreed for South End Green repays the community for their huge work over the past few months.
“Covid could have turned South End Green into a ghost town. Instead, our funding has enabled it to thrive. Turning closed units into booming village centres is a very cost-effective use of local CIL, and I’m grateful to the community for putting it to such good use.”
He praised Zara for stumping up the funds.
A total of £17,400 has been approved for the project, but the Ham&High understands it is unlikely the full amount will be used.
Camden Council said the money has now been released to reimburse Mr Demir.