Opposition councillor claims Ashfield District Council have wasted £49,000 on Kirkby leisure centre feasibility study

A Councillor has slammed Ashfield District Council for spending £49,000 on a feasibility study for the proposed new leisure centre in Kirkby.

By Kevin Rogers [email protected]
Tuesday, 2nd September 2014, 6:23 pm

Concillor Jason Zadrozny claims the feasibility study for the new centre proposed to be built following the demolition of the Festival Hall was a waste of money.

He also says the public consultation for the new centre is a sham, claiming the project is a done deal.

Coun Zadrozny said the £49,000 feasibility study had been in the council’s asset management budget.

NMAC11-0973-2 Jason Zadrozny

Coun Zadrozny said: They are spending this money on a study when they have clearly decided they want to do something while they are cutting services.

“This is a pet project which doesn’t need a feasibility study.”

He said the £49,000 would have paid the wages for two full-time members of staff at the cash strapped authority for a year.

After announcing the project last month Coun Chris Baron, Ashfield District Council Leader said a multi-use sports hall, state of the art gymnasium, activity studio, crèche and cafe, would be a replacement for the existing Leisure Centre at the Festival Hall.

Ashfield Health Village. Pictured are Doctor Hilary Lovelock, Councillor Jim Aspinall and Amanda Brown, Service Director at Mansfield and Ashfield Clinical Commissioning Group at Ashfield Health Village.

Coun Baron said the money to fund the centre, which would be built on the site of the current Ada Lovelace House, would come from a variety of sources, including borrowing, capital receipts and the assets of the authority.

Reduced management fees had been negotiated with the authority’s leisure contractors, Sports and Leisure Management (SLM), which would help with the cost.

Coun Zadrozny said the re-tendering contract with SLM had included a rebait of £250,000 which had been offered on the basis of closing the Festival Hall.

But the council has denied the £250,000 reduction was conditional on the hall’s closure.

Coun Zadrozny also claims the council would sell off the land after demolishing the hall, including land behind it off Lindley’s Lane, for housing.

Coun Zadrozny said: “They have to make the money to build the centre from somewhere.

“The big error they are making is that they could do everything they wanted on the Festival Hall site.

“The whole proposed leisure facility would fit in the Festival Main Hall itself.

”There have been nearly 1,000 houses built at the back of Lindley’s Lane with half already occupied. The council is getting £2,000 commuted payments per building for improving facilities in Kirkby.

“They should use that money to improve the existing facilities or use it to borrow against.”

He said the council could take advantage of the Government’s New Homes Bonus equal to six year’s Council Tax for each new home.

“The people of Kirkby have lost masses of green space. What they are proposing is a prefab bespoke gym which is not what Kirkby wants.

“It stands to lose two heritage buildings, the Festival Hall and Lovelace House.”

He added: “Kirkby definitely needs a swimming pool. You could build a good quality pool behind the Festival Hall and it would be a capital asset.

“They are not doing things in a smart way.”

Coun Jim Aspinall, Portfolio holder for regeneration at the council said: “The Council is undertaking a feasibility study with regards to the proposed leisure centre and have also consulted with the public with a survey on our website.

“It is not true to say the £250,000 reduction in management fees was conditional on us knocking down the Fez.”

To have your say on the plan visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/kirkbylc