Yes, we can afford it and besides the old pool is ‘living on borrowed time’ agrees East Cambs Council as next stage of £13.6m complex agreed

How the proposed Ely leisure centre could look.

How the proposed Ely leisure centre could look. - Credit: Archant

Councillors have been assured by a finance chief that building a new leisure complex in Ely is affordable.

Andy Radford, chief financial officer, told the council he had spent some months advising members on the affordability and funding options for the centre.

“I tested this advice with the council’s treasury management advisers who were in full agreement with my approach and advice given to members,” he said.

On the assumption that the council adopted a recent review mechanism- which they did- he felt this would “give cost certainty”. For that reason “I remain comfortable that the project is affordable”.

Councillors will not finally decide until April whether to commit to the £13.658 million centre for Ely – but have agreed £500,000 to progress it.

East Cambs Council will only give the project the green light once they are sure of how much it will cost to build.

They agreed however that “to maintain the project’s momentum and enable the procurements to commence, a further release of funding is necessary”.

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The leisure centre is being funded through a combination of borrowing, capital receipts, Community Infrastructure Levy, (developer payments) and the New Homes Bonus. The £500,000 needed now will come from the funds held by the council through the New Homes Bonus.

Councillor Richard Hobbs, chairman of the commercial services committee, said it was a great pleasure to him that the council had reached this point and could now make a judgement on whether to move forward.

He said the current pool was “living on borrowed time” and was costing £170,000 a year to run.

“This sum could fund a better facility for the district,” he said.