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

editorial image

A councillor has slammed Ashfield District Council for spending £49,000 on consultations over the proposed new leisure centre in Kirkby - claiming the decision to go ahead has already been made.

The authority is launching a consultation into plans for the new centre which would be built to replace current facilities at Festival Hall.

But Coun Jason Zadrozny says the decision to close and demolish the Festival Hall has already been made and included in the council’s budget plans.

Last month Coun Chris Baron, Ashfield District Council leader, announced that a replacement multi-use sports hall, state of the art gymnasium, activity studio, crèche and cafe, would be built on the site of the current Ada Lovelace House.

Coun Baron said the money to fund the centre 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 also help with the cost.

But Coun Zadrozny claims the re-tendering contract with SLM had included a rebate of £250,000 which has already been offered on the basis of that the Festival Hall would be demolished.

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

But the council has strongly denied that the £250,000 contract rebate had anything to do with the hall’s closure.

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.”

Coun Zadrozny added: “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.”

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