Caerphilly County Borough Council is to consider setting aside £268,000 for a scheme to compensate residents living on one of Wales’ most polluted streets, whose homes face demolition.
The council has agreed to buy 23 properties on the A472 in Hafodyrynys for 50% above the market rate, to ensure residents do not lose out financially.
Nitrogen dioxide levels on the street were higher than anywhere except central London in 2015 and 2016, prompting calls for action on a local and national level.
The Welsh Government had agreed to fund purchasing the properties for demolition, costing £2.77 million, but it has now indicated that it can only contribute money to buy the homes at 30% above the market rate.
This will leave the council needing to plug a £268,000 funding shortfall for the scheme.
A report to be considered by the council’s cabinet next Wednesday (October 16) says: “Welsh Government has now advised that to demonstrate responsible public expenditure within financial guidelines their funding should be in accordance with the compensation code.”
The report says it is “unfortunate that the compensation code does not facilitate the original proposal.”
“Welsh Government have assured that they are doing all that they can to deliver the best outcome for residents,” the report adds.
The council says the Welsh Government have been asked to consider funding the shortfall through a discretionary well-being top-up payment.
But in anticipation of this funding not being made available, the council’s cabinet will consider setting money aside from its environmental health budget – which is projecting an underspend of £296,000.
The underspend is partly due to a £155,000 saving in salaries from a combination of staff on unpaid leave, staff on reduced hours and delayed filling of vacant posts.
There is also expected to be additional funding of £131,000 from Welsh Government to finance staff time associated with the delivery of the Hafodyrynys project.
Knocking down the 23 properties will allow for a realignment of Hafodyrynys Road, and for the council to meet air quality targets in the shortest possible time, by 2022.
The option was favoured over an alternative do minimum’ approach, which relied on vehicle emissions improving over time.