BOROUGH leader Justin Madders says time is “running out” to spend nearly £3m, currently languishing in the council’s bank accounts.

It was handed to the authority by developers to carry out landscaping, road improvements and public works after councillors had approved certain large planning schemes. These sums are known as Section 106 agreements.

The borough was just one of several local authorities asked to reveal details of their unspent funds, after a Freedom of Information request was submitted by the Pioneer’s parent company Trinity Mirror.

We found that, collectively, these councils had more than £16m stashed away unused in the bank.

Ellesmere Port & Neston had a total of nearly £3m of unspent Section 106 cash, while Chester had £3.1m and Halton had £2m.

One of the largest single Section 106 sums handed over to this borough was by the developers of Cheshire Oaks Outlet Village, totalling £4.25m.

Of that, £1.8m still remains unspent.

Borough leader Justin Madders said “time was running out” for them to use the money before the reorganisation of local government and take-over of the borough council by the new Cheshire West and Chester Council in April 2009.

Cllr Madders (Lab, Ledsham) said: “For the last six months, we have been trying to identify schemes we can use that money for, before the authority expires, and a lot of that is under way.”

He explained the money held in connection with Cheshire Oaks was largely committed but had yet to be handed over because of contractual negotiations.

Other cash handed over to the authority includes £177,600 given by Barratts, the developer of land off Stanney Woods Avenue within the last four years; and £100,000, given by Cheshire Oaks Racquets Ltd, of which £69,444 is unused.

Redrow Homes handed over £90,000 in June 2007, when it developed land to the north of Berwick Road, Little Sutton; and £78,650 was given to the council by Peel Holdings in July as part of the agreement to develop the land off Rossfield Road.

Cllr Madders said: “Some of this is linked to projects which we have not been able to spend yet, because the developments have not been completed.”

But he insisted: “Most of the money will be used for its original purpose.”