Civic Hall and Sports Centre may move out of town
Last updated at 11:11, Thursday, 16 August 2012
A BIG shake-up of Copeland’s recreation and leisure services is being considered which could eventually lead to major facilities being moved elsewhere.
The Whitehaven News understands that facilities such as the Sports Centre and the Civic Hall are both in the mix for possible re-location away from the town centre longer term.
Both buildings are on high-value land which could prove attractive to investors for alternative development.
Preliminary discussions are taking place within Copeland Council but nothing has been decided yet. There is likely to be public consultation on any proposals to come forward.
Labour councillor Phil Greatorex, Executive portfolio holder for regeneration, confirmed that the borough council is taking a strategic look at how best to provide facilities in the future and where they should be. He was not specific, but high on the discussion agenda was the possibility of having as many sport and recreation services as possible in one place.
The strategic review covers the council’s own sports and leisure facilities. Whitehaven Sports Centre, the Civic Hall, Copeland Swimming Pool and Cleator Moor Bowls Centre are a major part.
Coun Greatorex said: “With building maintenance costs as high as they are, it makes sense to look at whether Copeland’s facilities should be co-located in one area. And if there are a range of activities in one place, you are likely to get more people taking up the different sports which in turn brings health benefits.”
Serious doubts have emerged over whether Pow Beck valley is any longer a viable site for such a large-scale project. The original idea was to link a ‘Sports Village’ with the proposed community sports stadium but since the collapse of talks with landowners the prospects of a £5.5 million stadium being built are rapidly disappearing.
It is believed the currently favoured option is to refurbish the Recreation Ground, home of Whitehaven RLFC. But Coun Greatorex warned that a Recre revamp alone is unlikely to attract the £5.5 million Britain’s Energy Coast stadium ‘ringfenced’ spend if it did not fit with the Britain’s Energy Coast job creation and wider regeneration visions.
Sources say that figures of £400,000 to £600,000 have been quoted to upgrade the Recreation Ground to modern standards.
Coun Greatorex felt the RL club would probably have to find a sponsor if ground improvements failed to meet criteria.
He said: “Any money spent on the Recreation Ground is welcome but the original Pow Beck scheme has gone, and unless any new project ties in with BEC’s West Cumbria Economic Blueprint the priorities – and the money – may lie elsewhere.
“BEC simply must maximise the benefits it can leverage from the nuclear decommissioning programme and the funding that the nuclear partners provide.
“In the event a new proposal does not align with the outputs sought from Britain’s Energy Coast Economic Blueprint then naturally we would wish that ringfenced funding is spent on alternative projects that do, particularly projects that create higher value job opportunities across Copeland borough.
“This would not exclude the stadium partnership from pursuing funding from alternative sources, including direct support from its sponsors, although in the current economic climate this would be extremely challenging.”
Some £1.2 million of taxpayers’ money has already been lost in preparing for a scheme which was no longer viable.
Coun Greatorex said the Partnership’s Pow Beck options appraisal did include redevelopment of the current facilities (rugby league and soccer) and was considering the benefits (including wider regeneration) against the costs for each option and likely sources of funding.
“I’d envisage that Britain’s Energy Coast will look at how any new proposal would act as a catalyst for wider regeneration of Pow Beck including potential for sports development.”
Britain’s Energy Coast’s chairman Brian Wilson said: “In light of the previous (Pow Beck) scheme’s collapse, we are awaiting a new application from the partners which will be given the same constructive response as in the past. Copeland Council is represented on the BEC board.”
First published at 11:07, Thursday, 16 August 2012
Published by http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk
Have your say
Where are they going to move them to, Workington already has the carnegie & a couple of sports centres, and lets face it if you want anything other than food in Whitehaven you usually end up in Workington (well done Allerdale council), pray tell why would a cruise ship want to come here when all they can do is browse the charity shops in town? this council is sadly drowning in its own abject failure. LEAVE WELL ALONE
Good, relevant points made by 'crisby'. The civic hall used to have a really good restaurant at lunchtimes. A selection of food that was wholesome and reasonably priced. A once a week cinema is a really good idea. Innovation is what's needed to revitalise the civic hall, someone paid a salary to ensure it's success. Or is this the position already?
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