Council poised to appoint operator and contractor for £13.5m Ely leisure complex - a little matter of £1.5m from Sport England needed

Impression of how Ely leisure complex will look

Impression of how Ely leisure complex will look - Credit: Archant

Their calculators ready – and fingers crossed- councillors are expected to vote next week to appoint both a contractor and an operator for the £13.5 million Downham Road, Ely, leisure centre.

Andy Radford, director of resources at East Cambs District Council, says confirmation of £1.5 million from Sport England is still needed, as too is the proceeds of Barton Road land sales.

Much of the cash is being provided by the council itself – either through capital receipts or borrowing- but Mr Radford’s report to a special council meeting next Tuesday is optimistic.

“The tender costs match those of the project budget,” he says. This gives confidence that the estimates throughout have been “realistic and robust”.

The Sport England funding is dependent on a successful grant application that will be made immediately after the council meeting. It is expected the outcome will be known by September.

“At this stage, without full Sport England funding, the project would be unaffordable,” he says. It would have to be redesigned “which will create a significant delay as the project will need to be redefined and refinanced”.

He will assure councillors that the authority has a reputation for “delivering year on year efficiency savings and income growth; in my view, undertaking new borrowing to fund the leisure centre, is both prudent and affordable”.

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Mr Radford says it is critical the council maintains and protects the value of the leisure centre both in terms of its future usage and to ensure the operator can make a profit.

The council will retain responsibility for replacing key infrastructure (eg plant) at the centre and for the fabric of the building to keep it refreshed. The council will make £5 million available over 25 years to ensure this happens.

He also reminds councillors that the closure of Paradise Pool will save the council around £170,000 a year.

Mr Radford says: “The leisure centre project can be delivered ‘cost neutral’. It has a number of risks and a significant level of prudence has been adopted to these risks.”

Names of the contractor and operator are being kept confidential for now.