March 10 2014 Latest news:
Lizzie Dearden, Reporter
Thursday, December 5, 2013
An extra £2million is being plunged into the new Romford swimming pool and ice rink to keep the project afloat.
Havering Council approved the extra funds at a meeting last week, increasing the total budget to £28.8m.
The original plan was for the leisure centre to be completely funded by the £25m sale of the old ice rink site, in Rom Valley Way, to supermarket chain Morrisons.
But a report presented to councillors said inflation, extra demands attached to Sport England’s recent grant, “various planning requirements” and the impact of ground soil surveys had caused the gap.
Arguing for the extra funding at the Havering Town Hall meeting on November 27, Cllr Roger Ramsey (Con, Emerson Park) said the deal was still “an exceptional one”.
He added: “It gives an opportunity to for new facilities in Romford which is unlikely to arise again for a generation.
“Members should make no mistake that without this transaction, the council would be in no financial position to finance such a scheme.”
The Residents’ Group called for a review of capital cost and revenue projections before committing to extra funds but the amendment was not carried.
Leader Cllr Clarence Barrett (Residents’ Group, Cranham), said: “We’re not putting this amendment down to stop the leisure centre, we want more information on revenue and capital costs before we release the £2m.
“The project is £4million in excess of the original estimate, and that’s before a brick has even been laid. That is why we are concerned.”
But Cllr Ramsey argued all financial arrangements had been “robustly scrutinised” and the amendment would cause an unnecessary delay.
The centre is expected to make a profit from a gym, dance studio and ice rink, which will be paid back to the council by the contractor running it.
Cllr Jeffrey Tucker, leader of the Independent Residents’ Group, argued the development should be put in Rainham but other councillors said the planned location in Romford was easiest for visitors.
Welcoming the centre plans, Labour group leader Cllr Keith Darvill (Lab, Heaton), said: “Locating it in any other outlying parts of the borough would be foolish in my view because you would be unlikely to get many people attending it.”
The £2m will be taken from reserves, meaning no cuts or tax hikes will be needed.