INCENTIVES v BRIBES (Can you spot the difference?)

Local communities should be "bribed" to accept more wind farms in the countryside so Britain can meet its renewable energy targets, said senior Conservative MP, Tim Yeo, chair of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee.  Communities should be incentivised to agree to on-shore wind farms rather than simply having them imposed.

Is the money being given to Rackheath Community Trust (an unelected group of local residents part funded by Barratt Homes the legal 'joint venture agreements ' partner with BDC and the German landowner of Manor Farms Rackheath Limited)  a “bribe” to ensure that the plans to build thousands of houses get the support of the community.  A Freedom of Information answer tells us that:

  • There has been one study trip that included Rackheath Community Trust delegates. This took place in April 2012, five Trust members attended together with the Broadland Officer Project Manager. The cost was £4136.28.
  • £5000 has been paid to the Trust of which £700 has been earmarked for Jubilee related events. The balance is held by the Trust on account.
·         Barratt Homes have received no payments but have paid for the cabin which (subject to planning permission) will be sited in the Church car park and used as the Trust office. They have also paid for the Trust’s website to be developed.
  • The company secretary of the Trust is Mark Patchett (pro tem), the consultant engaged to help support the Trust. Mr Patchett’s fees are split between Barratt Homes and BDC. There are no BDC members or officers who are directors of the company. Cllr Buckle has a seat on the Working Group and Susan Flack (a Broadland Officer) is seconded two days a week to the Trust as Project Manager.

Members of SNUB core group met with Rackheath Community Trust recently and we will publish the Minutes of that meeting on our Blog once BDC have released them.

Even professional planners are unsure about the distinction between an Incentive and a Bribe.  The Planning Advisory Service, designed to provide advice to local authorty planning departments has this to say about the use of Community Infrastructure Levy and New Homes Bonus:
Incentives – where there is development, there could be money for infrastructure. Have you developed your approach to spending the Community Infrastructure Levy and New Homes Bonus?  Be mindful of how these incentives are perceived by the community. Some will see them as bribes.
Look at other things that BDC has done for Rackheath, the centre of the North East Growth Triangle where BDC are trying to build 10,000 homes:

  • Two new pedestrain crossings (signalised Puffin crossing and a refuge island crossing) at a cost of £140,000.  This is despite a fairly new refuge crossing having been built on the site of the Puffin crossing.  This nearly new crossing had to be dismantled to make way for the Puffin crossing.
  • BDC have spent £300,000 to date on retro fitting energy saving schemes to existing homes in Rackheath.
  • The construction of an Eco Community Education Centre on Rackheath Industrial Estate which cost £500,000.

From 1st July 2011 businesses (which includes local authorities) must have “adequate procedures” to prevent bribery in their organisations, under a new law to combat corruption.  The Bribery Act 2010 creates four new criminal offences – in essence bribing someone, being bribed, bribing a foreign official and, for commercial organisations, failing to prevent bribery.

So nearly £1m spent in this small area of Broadland.  Bribe or incentive?  You decide. 


  1. Rackheath resident15 June 2012 at 19:19

    If paymemts or gifts in kind from either BDC or Barratts are deemed to be bribes then would the directors of the Rackheath Comunity Trust be personally liable?


      Stephen Heard

  2. Just an observation but every other page of the latest Broadland News has the village of Rackheath mentioned....heavy on the PR or what!

  3. Interesting article, thanks for highlighting this. Having just read the draft Memorandum for the Rackheath Community Trust. In particular, section 12, The Trustees. It seems you may well be right to raise the issue.

    Surely, the Trustees of any new Rackheath Community Trust should be freely elected from those willing to stand, who reside in Rackheath. In fact, of the (minimum) 12 Trustees that must form the Board ONLY 4 are to be so elected. All these ex-officio's just pander to vested interests and make the whole enterprise dubious at the start, great shame!