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Chafford Sports Complex owners Harris Academy have 'absolutely no intention' of turning building into sixth form

PUBLISHED: 12:57 22 November 2017 | UPDATED: 12:57 22 November 2017

Chafford sports centre in Rainham

Chafford sports centre in Rainham

Archant

Rumours that the only swimming pool in the south of Havering is under threat of closure have been strongly refuted by the facility's owners.

The Chafford Sports Complex in Lambs Lane South, Rainham, had allegedly come under threat after Sport Leisure Management (SLM) was awarded a 20-year contract to run the borough’s sports centres.

SLM told the council that, unless hefty investment was made in the outdated centre, it would not be able to operate Chaffords long-term.

But, as the centre is actually owned by the Harris Academy Rainham, and only leased to the council, financial regulations make heavy investment in renovations at the site impossible.

It had been suggested the academy was planning to convert the building into a new sixth form centre.

However, a spokeswoman for the Harris Federation said that although the Harris Academy Rainham has approval from the Department for Education for a sixth form, the leisure centre is not under threat.

She said: “We have absolutely no intention of changing the sports complex - which we currently lease to Havering Council - into a sixth form. Indeed, we are in discussions with Havering about how we might extend that lease for the longer term.”

But confusion still surrounds these negotiations, with officers unclear about how investment in the centre can be managed.

Both the school and the council could end up paying heavy sums of VAT if they reinvested money made at the site back into renovations there, but capital investment from the council is prohibited by Public Contract Regulations.

A report presented to the cabinet stresses that work is underway to find a solution to investment problems at the site, but the borough’s latest financial projections for its leisure centres did not include long-term revenue from the site.

Speaking at last week’s meeting, council leader Councillor Roger Ramsey said: “This is unfortunately out of our control.

“It is owned by the school and there are various complexities in terms of investment and tenure to be able to put it together.

“But we are working on it – because our intention is that we would like to preserve swimming pool facilities for that area.”

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