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New Leisure Centre "Absolute and Utter Disgrace " Review Newspaper 2 March 2011.

posted 2 Mar 2011, 08:15 by David Gilroy   [ updated 6 Mar 2011, 04:34 ]
The Review Newspaper was in the Council Chamber on 23rd February 2011 to hear the NEWBODGE described by Councillor Gardner as a "complete and utter disgrace" . They later caught up with PoolTooSmall's David Gilroy , Tony Waite and James Gilroy  on the site of the NEWBODGE . For full report and picture  please click the following:-  
A DECISION to spend more than £20million of taxpayers’ money on a new leisure centre was labelled “an absolute” disgrace this evening, as councillors agreed a “hard times”  budget for the year ahead.
St Albans District Council agreed deep spending cuts of £2.2million and a freeze in council tax as members voted on the 2011/12 budget proposed by the ruling Liberal Democrat administration. But it was the £20.5million it has now committed to spend on Westminster Lodge that provoked heated debate, with some opposition members branding the scheme a “white elephant,” a waste of money and a hindrance to potential future spending requirements.

Council Leader Robert Donald, who repeatedly quoted Charles Dickens in his “hard times” themed speech, confirmed that the council had now signed a contract with second choice contractor Willmott Dixon, allowing construction work to begin on March 21 and committing the council to a long-term spending commitment – funded by £16.7million in borrowing a £4.8million in capital receipts.

Councillor Donald, pointing to the results of an earlier public consultation, has argued that development is both wanted and welcomed. This evening, however, his political opponents said he had his priorities wrong.

Conservative group leader Councillor Julian Day accused Councillor Donald of ignoring his own mantra of citizen engagement by not listening to the grave concerns many taxpayers have about the scheme.

Party colleague Councillor Daniel Chichester-Miles, meanwhile, described the scheme as “a luxury we can no longer afford” and said the council had a “moral duty” to spend the money instead on council tenants, who will see their rents rise by an average of more than seven per cent as a result of the budget.

Labour group leader Councillor Martin Leach, meanwhile, described the scheme as the “white elephant in the room” and said it had been funded by the “theft” of nearly £5million from the council’s housing revenue account – money that will be secured by the sale of a council-owned development. He added: “This reveals the extent of the detachment between this cabinet and the people they are supposed to represent.”

Councillor Katherine Gardner went further, adding: “Spending that kind of money in the current climate, while we have homeless people in the district, is an absolute and utter disgrace.”

Councillor Donald again reiterated that the project would benefit the whole community, while housing portfolio holder Councillor David Poor stressed that social housing conditions in St Albans compared favourably to most other towns and cities in the county.

First picture shows incompetent NEWBODGE team "riding" their £26million white elephant .

Second picture shows PoolTooSmall stalwart Peter Woolf with his white elephant at an earlier Council meeting-well done Sir!