Report made it clear to me just how unaffordable the proposed leisure centre is
Answers are needed about the spending priorities of East Cambridgeshire District Council following a report presented last Thursday.
The paper made quite clear, to me at least, just how unaffordable the proposed leisure centre really is.
Projected annual income, arrived at by averaging the offers from a number of private leisure centre operators, is given as £277.000 a year.
This is expected to be achieved by offering a 20-year contract to operate the centre, by which time experience has shown refurbishment would be needed.
To fund the centre, the council is proposing to sell every available asset it owns, to use £4million in developer contributions from Ely North and, critically, to borrow with repayments of £451,000 per year over 35 years.
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In other words, the borrowing carries on being repaid 15 years beyond the contract period and well into the timescale that will require further significant investment.
Worse, the proposals identify a funding gap of £2.5million to be funded by as yet unidentified other means.
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Does this make sense? Can a small local authority that admits to a revenue black hole in two years’ time, with little left to cut, realistically enter into this commitment?
The costs would remove flexibility from future spending options, deny investment to existing sports facilities and threaten investment in statutory services that the council must make.
As the official opposition seems to fear criticising what may seem to be an electorally popular project, it falls to me to make these implications clear.
CLLR IAN ALLEN
Non-aligned councillor, Haddenham ward