COMMUNITIES in east Cheshire will soon be able to benefit from a share of £2 million – but only for a limited time.

The cash is from the Government’s new homes bonus – a grant paid to councils as an incentive to build new homes.

Cheshire East Council has agreed to set the money aside for communities to decide how they want to use it, and areas which have seen the most housebuilding between 2011 and 2017 will get the most money.

But bidders must be able to show how the cash would benefit people in their local area, and the funds must be allocated by the end of 2019-20.

At a corporate overview and scrutiny committee meeting on Thursday, Jan Willis, interim executive director of corporate services, said: “This is council funding which is being taken out of our mainstream resources, and therefore we would want to see the money spent in a way that it contributes to the council’s key strategic outcomes and priorities.

“We want to see tangible benefits for the local community, so it’s about enhancing service delivery.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that this money is spent, and it does not end up just sitting in someone else’s bank account.”

Communities will be able to bid for amounts of at least £10,000, their projects must be feasible and represent good value, while ward councillors are set to decide the funding priorities for their area.

Example projects suggested at the meeting included sport and transport schemes, library provision and parks improvement.

Officers had proposed that projects should have used all the money by the end of 2019-20, but this will now be reconsidered after scrutiny committee members insisted this was unrealistic.

Cllr Amanda Stott, independent, said: “You are asking for really big projects to be completed in 18 months.”

Cllr Sarah Pochin, Conservative, added: “It might be small money for CEC, but at ward level with the time it takes to mobilise, 18 months will go like a flash.

“I can’t see why, if the funds are allocated, why they can’t be protected for that purpose.”

Once approved by cabinet, £1 million will be available to projects in 2018-19, and £1 million will be available in 2019-20.

CEC will split the funding between the borough’s seven highways areas, which include the towns of Congleton, Crewe, Nantwich, Knutsford, Wilmslow, Poynton and Macclesfield, and their surrounding parishes.

Congleton, which includes Alsager, Sandbach and Middlewich, will receive the largest amount of cash at £657,946 over the next two years, as it saw the largest number of homes built between 2011 and 2017.

Crewe will receive £341,970, Nantwich will get £324,013, Macclesfield will get £243,477, Wilmslow will get £173,462, Poynton will receive £135,552 and Knutsford will get £123,580.

But Cllr Harold Davenport, Conservative member for Disley, called for a guarantee that parishes which grew most in that time will get their fair share of the cash.

“Within the little group that we are in, Disley is the place that has had all the housing,” he said.

“We would be totally outvoted in the highways group, where there are four Poynton councillors and others.

“We need some sort of safeguard so that areas that have built more houses get a reasonable share of the funds.”

Recommendations made by the scrutiny committee will be considered before the community fund scheme is approved by cabinet.