Recently a great deal of misinformation has been written in the press and on social media regarding the proposed Workington Community Stadium, Allerdale Conservatives wish to provide clarity over the issue and their position on the stadium.
What is proposed?
The current proposal is for a £33m stadium to be built, following plans submitted by Allerdale Borough Council. The council intends to find an investor to fund and build the new stadium and then lease this back to a new stadium company.
Make no mistake, this is a PFI. The same scheme that ‘fundedʼ Cumberland Infirmary and near bankrupted Cumbria NHS. Allerdale BC no longer denies that PFI is the funding model for the stadium.
This is a buy now and pay much later option.
The expected cost over a 50 year lease is £95.1m and Allerdale Borough Council, and therefore council taxpayers, would act as guarantor for the duration of the contract. If it doesn't work out, taxpayers pick up the tab, whatever the cost.
The current proposed model is a £95m debt that our children and grandchildren will be paying for long after we have gone.
Is a £95m debt the kind of legacy we should be leaving our children and grandchildren?
“The stadium hasnʼt cost taxpayers a penny”
Allerdale Borough Council and the Labour Party assert that there has been zero cost to taxpayers for the stadium project thus far. This is lies.
Over £600,000 has been spent on the business case, with £100,000 in this year's budget towards a pitch and £50,000 for Derwent Park improvements. It is expected that a £500,000 fit-out cost will also fall back on the council.
There are claims that the stadium could hold concerts. We would welcome this as a potential way forward to increase operating revenue.
Allerdale Borough Council have NOT APPLIED for the correct planning permission, so concerts are not currently on the cards.
Allerdale Borough Council, the Planning Authority, have applied for the wrong planning permission for concerts. YOU COULDN'T MAKE IT UP!
What about the 300 new jobs?
The promise of new jobs is also a fallacy. 300 new jobs will not be created, as they're being displaced from elsewhere, and the creation of the new NHS facility is designed to lead to the closure of our town centre doctor's surgeries that are more accessible to many that need them.
So what do Allerdale Conservatives stand for?
Allerdale Conservatives recognise that both stadiums require immediate drastic improvement or replacement. It is testament to both clubs that they have managed the maintenance and improvements that they have over the years. We also recognise the great strides made by both clubs and their supporters in moving towards the idea that shared facilities can work going forward. The work from both clubs so far should be rewarded.
We understand the responsibility that the council has to ensure the future sustainability of the clubs, but the council has to work sustainably too. That is why we don't believe that a prudent council would commit to a £95m PFI scheme, guaranteed by the taxpayer.
It is Allerdale Conservatives official policy that new playing facilities should be provided on a more sustainable scale that safeguards the future of both clubs, without excessive burden on hard-pressed families around the Borough.
Recent developments from the council and both clubs mean that decisions around the new stadium are unlikely to be taken in time to hit the current project dates. It's time to take stock and reboot the proposals so that they work for all stakeholders, and not just a small few of them.
As part of our plans to develop youth sports, create sustainable communities and to combat social exclusion while working for the whole of Allerdale, it is a manifesto commitment that we would seek to invest in community facilit- ies to ensure that they are fit for purpose and sustainable long into the future. Some of our youth teams have to go outside of the borough to find training facilities, and it's simply not acceptable.
Allerdale has long been a nursery for world-class sportspeople, it will be one of our priorities to ensure that our youth have access to training facilities. Wehave found ourselves in a situation where some parts of the borough have great, community- led sports facilities, while other areas suffer through a lack of them. We will invest in sports training facilities that enable our young sports people to thrive and to grow.