Managers call it ‘The Investment Fallacy’. You and I might call it ‘throwing good money after bad’. Something can seem a good idea, when you first come up with it. Moving house is a good example. You’ve already paid the surveyor. They’ve discovered a load of defects. These are going to cost you an arm and a leg to put right. You will owe the solicitor a tidy sum whether you carry on or not. Do you really want to cut your losses, pay off the professionals and go trudging around hoping to find somewhere better?
Relocating the Leisure Centre
The decision to relocate Hermitage Leisure Centre in Coalville Town Centre seemed a good idea at the time. People need to take more exercise. The 40-year-old Leisure Centre simply isn’t big enough. It needs refurbishing anyway. Relocated, it might even increase footfall in the town centre.
The Leisure Centre project, like any house-move, is a very expensive idea. It is going to cost somewhere in the region of £18M. NWLDC can raise about £4M by selling the land under the existing Leisure Centre and land at Cropston Drive. That leaves £14M to find from somewhere else.
The Council have already spent £38,804 on looking at the feasibility of relocating Hermitage Leisure Centre onto Bridge Road car-park. The problem with that idea is, it just doesn’t stack up. Access to the town-centre is tricky. It is just not the right location.
Leisure facilities at Snibston
Residents have suggested that Snibston would make a good site. The land belongs to the public. It is designated for leisure use. It is sitting waiting to be redeveloped. It is also close to a Golf Club, Fishing Lakes, Cycle Tracks, Wildlife Walks. It is close to the town centre. It could help to regenerate our abandoned mining heritage.
At this point, it makes sense to look at the whole project again. If moving the Leisure Centre isn’t going to improve Coalville Town Centre, why are we doing it? Can we afford it? What are the risks? How else could we solve the problem?
Your Labour District Councillors have insisted on this project being properly scrutinised. It will be reviewed at a special meeting of the Policy Development Group in public on the 23rd August.
Private profit, public loss
Councillors on the Policy Development Group will need to take a long hard look at where the £14M is going to come from. A report to Cabinet (25th July 2017) suggested that this money could come from ‘internal borrowing’. This means using money set aside in reserves and paying it back later. This is a bit like you and me raiding the ‘Car Account’ or the ‘Holiday Savings’ and promising to pay it back before we next need to buy a new car or go abroad.
The project assumes that, somehow, running this Leisure Centre will cost you, the tax-payer, less. The Tory Cabinet are rather taken with the idea of getting a private company to design, build, operate and maintain the new Leisure Centre. It is not exactly clear from the Cabinet report why a private initiative should cost the tax-payer less financially.
Your District Councillors need to know your views on the Leisure Centre. You can find your District Councillor’s phone, email and postal address here:- https://www.nwleics.gov.uk/
The Cabinet paper on the leisure central proposals is here.