Cinema complex risks East Cambs Council's financial stability and fails to fulfil election promises
PUBLISHED: 17:07 06 January 2015 | UPDATED: 17:07 06 January 2015
I am prompted to write having seen images of the proposed cinema complex in your paper, which seems to occupy the site designated for sports and leisure previously.
The Conservatives, in pursuing these flagship projects, are not only risking the financial stability of the council, with uncertain income streams and a huge burden of debt, they are also failing to fulfil promises made at the last election.
Does anybody else recall those promises that the Ely Masterplan would, through development, fund leisure provision, road improvements and, crucially, deliver 30 per cent affordable housing for local people?
The situation today illustrates the contempt that the administration has for the electorate and council workers. Coalition cuts have led to a black hole in finances and there have been redundancies to enable pet projects to struggle on while basic services suffer.
The council is now selling every land asset that can find a buyer in order to fund the leisure centre prior to the election.
In Witchford, for example, a piece of land gained for the community via a Section 106 planning gain agreement was sold to a private buyer.
More recently, land with detailed plans for 16 affordable homes, all with tenants waiting, was sold to a developer for five private houses and no condition for any affordable commitment.
Ely North is now expected to deliver 15 per cent affordable housing, or half that promised, as other burdens on the profit margin are prioritised.
It cannot be right to prioritise a country park and leisure centre above local housing needs in an area under pressure because of high costs in the Cambridge area.
Many children are going to find great difficulty leaving the family home as they grow up. The priority has to be to develop more affordable housing, of whatever tenure, not to commit yet more millions deciding just what leisure specification will get most votes.
I would love to hear what those in positions of influence have to say on the matter.
CLLR IAN ALLEN
Non-aligned councillor, Haddenham ward