Wednesday 7 December 2011

Council In Trouble Over Sport England Grant To Threatened Sports Centre

This week's Private Eye 'Rotten Boroughs' column reports:

"Eye 1301 reported on how Newham, London's 'Olympic' borough, plans to close the Atherton leisure centre - the only public sports facility of its kind in the 'Olympic zone'.

Newham's mayor, "Sir" Robin Wales, says the Atherton has to go because the council can't afford the £2.2m required to run it for the next ten years. Wales has promised a new "state-of-the-art" pool and sports centre, but no funds have been earmarked.

Campaigners who want to keep the pool open have discovered that Sir Robin hasn't done his sums properly. Back in 199 the council obtained a £2.36m grant from Sport England to refurbish the centre. One of the conditions of the funding was that the council had to keep it open for at least 21 years - ie until 2020. if not it would be liable to repay some or all of the £2.36m... over £100,000 more than it would "save" by closure. Brilliant!"


This information came from a Freedom of Information request made to Sport England by the Save Atherton Leisure Centre Campaign - see this press release.

UPDATE - 12 December

Papers for this Thursday's Newham council Cabinet meeting include reference to the grant and say that Sport England "are not currently intending to seek repayment of any lottery grant although this remains an option":

8.6 Lottery Grant repayment

The Council was the beneficiary of a £2.3m Lottery grant via Sport England in relation to the Atherton Centre. The grant agreement allows for Sport England to claw the funding back should the service no longer be provided. However, Sport England have been involved in early development of facility options and remain committed to working with Newham to secure long term sustainable investment in leisure. Sport England have confirmed that their priority is to secure this and welcome the Mayor’s comments about reproviding a new leisure centre. They are not currently intending to seek repayment of any lottery grant although this remains an option. Officers will continue to liaise with Sport England to mitigate this risk.

1 Comment:

bob smith said...

With Mike Law closing his blog, you are the only one reporting on the mess that is often Newham, as well as commenting on the positive aspects. Keep up the good work.

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