£3.1m cash windfall heading to Worcester - how would you spend it?

£3.1 cash windfall heading to Worcester - how would you spend it?

£3.1 cash windfall heading to Worcester - how would you spend it?

First published in News
Last updated
Worcester News: Tom Edwards Exclusive by , Political Reporter

A BONANZA £3.1 million cash windfall heading to Worcester City Council could be used to build a first class swimming pool, reverse massive cuts or pay off debt.

Your Worcester News can reveal how the city's Conservative leadership is running the rule over three possible ways to spend the cash coming from the sale of its Orchard House HQ.

They include:

- Funding the city's new swimming pool project, which as we revealed yesterday is being re-examined to see if Worcester can get a bigger, better facility than a six-lane, 25-metre pool

- Dramatically reversing at least some of the proposals to slash around £4.1 million from budgets by 2019 by deleting ones deemed unpalatable

- Paying off historic levels of debt, which today totals £8.5 million and includes loans from third parties like the Government-backed Public Works Loans Board and borrowing on the money markets

As we revealed yesterday the Orchard House complex, along with neighbouring council buildings Wyatt House and Graveney House are being sold to the University of Worcester for £2.9 million.

The deal also includes a 20-year lease on the Moors car park, which the university will pay a £260,000 upfront premium for and a nominal £1 per annum fee.

The sale is due to be voted through by the city's Conservative cabinet on Tuesday, and by March 2015 council staff will relocate to the City Art Gallery and Museum in Foregate Street.

Councillor Simon Geraghty, the leader, said: "It's a very welcome, large capital receipt for this council and we will be seeking to assess things immediately to see what we do.

"I would point out as this is a one-off capital sum it can't simply go on propping up services, but there are all sorts of other areas we can invest in.

"It could be used to reduce the levels of debt, or it could be used to make other big improvements in the city.

"It could go on the swimming pool, or it could bridge some of that gap (in the budget) - these are the areas we'll be looking at.

"This money is very welcome news for us and it's vital we use it wisely."

The news is another big boost to Worcester swimming club, which is pinning its hopes on the city getting an eight-lane competition standard pool at Perdiswell.

The cash could mean there is no need to take out such a hefty 40-year loan on the existing £6.5 million pool proposal - or even beef up the coffers enough to make an eight-lane, £13 million facility a reality.

Cllr Geraghty added: “Negotiations over selling Orchard House started in March when the previous (Labour) administration was in charge so I don’t think this is one of those issues where politics comes into it.

“But there will be a debate over how the money is used, some people might say we need to strike a balance across all the areas.”

The opposition Labour group say the decision will be massively important due to the current precarious nature of local government funding.

But some options may prove tricky, as under accounting rules the council cannot use a capital sum on revenue items, effectively ruling out an immediate cash injection to prop up service areas.

And on paying off the debts, if the council opts to wipe it all out in one go there would be financial penalties to pay for dealing with it so quickly.

Some of the repayment deals include clauses that lead to extra fees being added on for an early settlement.

The Coalition has already indicated that town hall grants will continue to shrink for the foreseeable future.

Councillor Richard Boorn, the party’s finance spokesman, said: “If they went for a much bigger pool there would be a bigger cost in heating it.

“You might say this is a lot of money to have (the sale of Orchard House) but it’s a one-off sum.”

Of the £8.5 million of debt the council is carrying, £5 million is from borrowing on the money markets and compares well to other district councils.

The remaining £3.5 million is owed to the Public Works Loans Board, which is affiliated to the Government and offers repayment rates below those available commercially.

* How would you spend the cash? Leave your comments below and we will feature the best ones in the newspaper.

Comments (28)

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12:22pm Thu 24 Jul 14

Gorecki says...

Think it would make sense to spend a small chunk on a variety of minor city beautification works (painting riverside railings, repairing city centre clocks etc).

They're usually overlooked as not being important enough to budget for, but make a big difference to a city's perception by residents and tourists = perfect for a windfall.

I also think Worcester has unusually good assets in the Racecourse walk and the Diglis riverside walk, both for health and a quick way to cross the city avoiding roads.
However these aren't realised properly as they are not joined up well at all at Worcester bridge (no crossing at all on the East side).

It would be nice if this could be addressed in some way, perhaps via a cycle priority crossing and a re-working of the river walk between the bridge and the racecourse.
Think it would make sense to spend a small chunk on a variety of minor city beautification works (painting riverside railings, repairing city centre clocks etc). They're usually overlooked as not being important enough to budget for, but make a big difference to a city's perception by residents and tourists = perfect for a windfall. I also think Worcester has unusually good assets in the Racecourse walk and the Diglis riverside walk, both for health and a quick way to cross the city avoiding roads. However these aren't realised properly as they are not joined up well at all at Worcester bridge (no crossing at all on the East side). It would be nice if this could be addressed in some way, perhaps via a cycle priority crossing and a re-working of the river walk between the bridge and the racecourse. Gorecki
  • Score: 21

12:30pm Thu 24 Jul 14

yeller says...

I would build a furnace and anyone who broke the law would be thrown into it.
I would build a furnace and anyone who broke the law would be thrown into it. yeller
  • Score: -3

12:37pm Thu 24 Jul 14

kwooster says...

I would set-up a new circular Park+Ride service, jointly with First.
Buy/rent a plot of land at Martin Hussingtree to give car passengers a CHOICE of P+R to Worcester city centre via Sixways, the hospital, county hall, 6th form college, and London Road (- more frequent in the appropriate direction during rush hours);
OR - to catch the 144 to Worcester ( - extended up the London Road with some continuing on this big circle back to Martin Hussingtree).
(and vice versa).
The County Hall area SHOULD also have parking for this P+R service.

I dare say there are many reasons why all this CAN'T be done, but surely something along these lines should have been part of the "planning system" before adding all the businesses and houses in and around the area ? !
(With BIG £ being spent elsewhere, the North of Worcester is about to lose it's Park+Ride = Madness! )
Can anyone ADD something POSITIVE to this idea ?
( - Lottery £ ?, European grant?, Better Bus Area grant? )

(P.S. Is it correct that the City Council own the Perdiswell P+R site ?? -
IF that's correct the site could be "moth-balled" until the inevitable housing development(s) - with a new through-road- between the A449 and the A38, thus providing a Claines Park+Ride).

(PPS: As well as providing the service to Southern parts of Brum, a variation of the 144 is to go Halesowen from September! )
I would set-up a new circular Park+Ride service, jointly with First. Buy/rent a plot of land at Martin Hussingtree to give car passengers a CHOICE of P+R to Worcester city centre via Sixways, the hospital, county hall, 6th form college, and London Road (- more frequent in the appropriate direction during rush hours); OR - to catch the 144 to Worcester ( - extended up the London Road with some continuing on this big circle back to Martin Hussingtree). (and vice versa). The County Hall area SHOULD also have parking for this P+R service. I dare say there are many reasons why all this CAN'T be done, but surely something along these lines should have been part of the "planning system" before adding all the businesses and houses in and around the area ? ! (With BIG £ being spent elsewhere, the North of Worcester is about to lose it's Park+Ride = Madness! ) Can anyone ADD something POSITIVE to this idea ? ( - Lottery £ ?, European grant?, Better Bus Area grant? ) (P.S. Is it correct that the City Council own the Perdiswell P+R site ?? - IF that's correct the site could be "moth-balled" until the inevitable housing development(s) - with a new through-road- between the A449 and the A38, thus providing a Claines Park+Ride). (PPS: As well as providing the service to Southern parts of Brum, a variation of the 144 is to go Halesowen from September! ) kwooster
  • Score: -5

12:39pm Thu 24 Jul 14

fightforfort says...

How much of the money will need to be used to make the Old Library and Museum in Foregate Street into modern offices for the staff. There may be fewer of them around - cut from 1,000 to less than 300 in ten years? - but to work well they need a decent environment. We need these answers before spending on anything else.
How much of the money will need to be used to make the Old Library and Museum in Foregate Street into modern offices for the staff. There may be fewer of them around - cut from 1,000 to less than 300 in ten years? - but to work well they need a decent environment. We need these answers before spending on anything else. fightforfort
  • Score: 8

12:56pm Thu 24 Jul 14

CJH says...

What about restoring all those essential services which have been cut? And the definition of 'essential' is NOT consultants, perks for councillors, consultants, bus lanes, consultants, park and ride schemes, consultants, olympic sized swimming pool, consultants, 'artists impressions' of schemes which will never happen, consultants, Alan Amos, and...consultants.
What about restoring all those essential services which have been cut? And the definition of 'essential' is NOT consultants, perks for councillors, consultants, bus lanes, consultants, park and ride schemes, consultants, olympic sized swimming pool, consultants, 'artists impressions' of schemes which will never happen, consultants, Alan Amos, and...consultants. CJH
  • Score: 12

1:00pm Thu 24 Jul 14

Tobster says...

yeller wrote:
I would build a furnace and anyone who broke the law would be thrown into it.
I remember listening to a similarly nonsensical idea from someone as a suggestion for how to deal with speeding because it was 'as bad as every other crime'.

It was a short debate as they happened to be a dope smoker!
[quote][p][bold]yeller[/bold] wrote: I would build a furnace and anyone who broke the law would be thrown into it.[/p][/quote]I remember listening to a similarly nonsensical idea from someone as a suggestion for how to deal with speeding because it was 'as bad as every other crime'. It was a short debate as they happened to be a dope smoker! Tobster
  • Score: 5

1:55pm Thu 24 Jul 14

The Villan says...

The first thing I would do is employ at least two new litter pickers with associated paraphernalia to project a clean city to visitors and locals alike.
The first thing I would do is employ at least two new litter pickers with associated paraphernalia to project a clean city to visitors and locals alike. The Villan
  • Score: 11

2:37pm Thu 24 Jul 14

3thinker says...

A capital windfall is a one off. It should not be used for maintaining services that have on-going recurrent revenue costs.

Yes it could be used to plug a gap in budgets for a swimming pool, but unless the historic debt is at very low interest rates and will be paid off soon anyway (which it could well be) then it does make sense to use all or most of it to pay off debt, which in turn reduces annual revenue costs and frees up money to protect vital services from planned or future cuts.
A capital windfall is a one off. It should not be used for maintaining services that have on-going recurrent revenue costs. Yes it could be used to plug a gap in budgets for a swimming pool, but unless the historic debt is at very low interest rates and will be paid off soon anyway (which it could well be) then it does make sense to use all or most of it to pay off debt, which in turn reduces annual revenue costs and frees up money to protect vital services from planned or future cuts. 3thinker
  • Score: 21

2:57pm Thu 24 Jul 14

chris4536 says...

Pay off any outstanding debts.
Pay off any outstanding debts. chris4536
  • Score: 9

4:30pm Thu 24 Jul 14

Bufton Tufton says...

fightforfort wrote:
How much of the money will need to be used to make the Old Library and Museum in Foregate Street into modern offices for the staff. There may be fewer of them around - cut from 1,000 to less than 300 in ten years? - but to work well they need a decent environment. We need these answers before spending on anything else.
Yes and increase councillors expenses and increase the chief executives pay.
[quote][p][bold]fightforfort[/bold] wrote: How much of the money will need to be used to make the Old Library and Museum in Foregate Street into modern offices for the staff. There may be fewer of them around - cut from 1,000 to less than 300 in ten years? - but to work well they need a decent environment. We need these answers before spending on anything else.[/p][/quote]Yes and increase councillors expenses and increase the chief executives pay. Bufton Tufton
  • Score: -3

5:00pm Thu 24 Jul 14

jankersjoe says...

How about a statue of Alan Amos. Then we could all chuck rotten fruit at it.
How about a statue of Alan Amos. Then we could all chuck rotten fruit at it. jankersjoe
  • Score: 10

5:14pm Thu 24 Jul 14

CJH says...

jankersjoe wrote:
How about a statue of Alan Amos. Then we could all chuck rotten fruit at it.
That's a waste of fruit - chucking it at a statue. Chucking it at the real thing however...
[quote][p][bold]jankersjoe[/bold] wrote: How about a statue of Alan Amos. Then we could all chuck rotten fruit at it.[/p][/quote]That's a waste of fruit - chucking it at a statue. Chucking it at the real thing however... CJH
  • Score: 10

5:14pm Thu 24 Jul 14

Rita Jelfs says...

With the 6 million received, pay off the 5 million of debt that's been borrowed on the money markets, in stages if necessary to avoid any penalties. The remaining 1 million, could be used to fill gaps in the Budget, specifically for measures that have the most significant effects, or on vulnerable members of the community, These are scarce taxpayer funds and should be allocated where they are most needed, not on pet projects.
With the 6 million received, pay off the 5 million of debt that's been borrowed on the money markets, in stages if necessary to avoid any penalties. The remaining 1 million, could be used to fill gaps in the Budget, specifically for measures that have the most significant effects, or on vulnerable members of the community, These are scarce taxpayer funds and should be allocated where they are most needed, not on pet projects. Rita Jelfs
  • Score: 4

5:27pm Thu 24 Jul 14

liketoknow says...

I don't like to be cynical, but to give a council a cash windfall is to almost guarantee we'll end up with something we don't need.
I don't like to be cynical, but to give a council a cash windfall is to almost guarantee we'll end up with something we don't need. liketoknow
  • Score: 3

6:22pm Thu 24 Jul 14

Jabbadad says...

What would be a mistake would be to trust our Councillors with it.
That well might stop huge ammounts being spent on Playgounds to please voters, which only get wrecked after a short time.
Better off dumping a pile of bricks with a few hammers and let the little darlings smash them up.
Whatever gets smashed the modern "well my kids don't need correcting" mums wouldn't try to stop them. And I mean the mums who also let your kids race around busy shops ranting and screaming if they can't have their own way,and in the restaurants, and never a NO word uttered.
What would be a mistake would be to trust our Councillors with it. That well might stop huge ammounts being spent on Playgounds to please voters, which only get wrecked after a short time. Better off dumping a pile of bricks with a few hammers and let the little darlings smash them up. Whatever gets smashed the modern "well my kids don't need correcting" mums wouldn't try to stop them. And I mean the mums who also let your kids race around busy shops ranting and screaming if they can't have their own way,and in the restaurants, and never a NO word uttered. Jabbadad
  • Score: -1

6:38pm Thu 24 Jul 14

DeBrian Thronker says...

Worcester's lacking a theme park. I'd build a massive rollercoaster on the racecourse, and make it free for all residents of Worcester.
Worcester's lacking a theme park. I'd build a massive rollercoaster on the racecourse, and make it free for all residents of Worcester. DeBrian Thronker
  • Score: -7

7:03pm Thu 24 Jul 14

skychip says...

I agree with The Villan re litter pickets, The approach into the City for visitors via London Road could be tidied up especially Sidbury. Doesn't look very attractive for visitors first impression of the City.
I agree with The Villan re litter pickets, The approach into the City for visitors via London Road could be tidied up especially Sidbury. Doesn't look very attractive for visitors first impression of the City. skychip
  • Score: 3

8:18pm Thu 24 Jul 14

New Kid on the Block says...

Rita Jelfs wrote:
With the 6 million received, pay off the 5 million of debt that's been borrowed on the money markets, in stages if necessary to avoid any penalties. The remaining 1 million, could be used to fill gaps in the Budget, specifically for measures that have the most significant effects, or on vulnerable members of the community, These are scarce taxpayer funds and should be allocated where they are most needed, not on pet projects.
Where is £6 million supposed to be coming from?
It is £3.1 million according to the article and at least £300,000 of that will need to be spent on refurbishing the old City Museum and Art Gallery for the staff who are being moved there.
[quote][p][bold]Rita Jelfs[/bold] wrote: With the 6 million received, pay off the 5 million of debt that's been borrowed on the money markets, in stages if necessary to avoid any penalties. The remaining 1 million, could be used to fill gaps in the Budget, specifically for measures that have the most significant effects, or on vulnerable members of the community, These are scarce taxpayer funds and should be allocated where they are most needed, not on pet projects.[/p][/quote]Where is £6 million supposed to be coming from? It is £3.1 million according to the article and at least £300,000 of that will need to be spent on refurbishing the old City Museum and Art Gallery for the staff who are being moved there. New Kid on the Block
  • Score: 2

8:50pm Thu 24 Jul 14

Scienteer says...

If paying off the debt means paying a big expensive exit fee, why don't the council invest some of the money to find the normal repayments. At the very least it will save us on our future council bills.
If paying off the debt means paying a big expensive exit fee, why don't the council invest some of the money to find the normal repayments. At the very least it will save us on our future council bills. Scienteer
  • Score: 1

9:22pm Thu 24 Jul 14

fightforfort says...

New Kid on the Block wrote:
Rita Jelfs wrote:
With the 6 million received, pay off the 5 million of debt that's been borrowed on the money markets, in stages if necessary to avoid any penalties. The remaining 1 million, could be used to fill gaps in the Budget, specifically for measures that have the most significant effects, or on vulnerable members of the community, These are scarce taxpayer funds and should be allocated where they are most needed, not on pet projects.
Where is £6 million supposed to be coming from?
It is £3.1 million according to the article and at least £300,000 of that will need to be spent on refurbishing the old City Museum and Art Gallery for the staff who are being moved there.
OK so now we have the bill for putting in the new offices in the Old Library ... £300k .... we can move forward. The key here is not the £2.8 million left but the potential to add this to the other capital receipts and then to plan strategically for the future. So let's crowd source. Anyone out their know the total capital pot for say the next five years.....?
[quote][p][bold]New Kid on the Block[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Rita Jelfs[/bold] wrote: With the 6 million received, pay off the 5 million of debt that's been borrowed on the money markets, in stages if necessary to avoid any penalties. The remaining 1 million, could be used to fill gaps in the Budget, specifically for measures that have the most significant effects, or on vulnerable members of the community, These are scarce taxpayer funds and should be allocated where they are most needed, not on pet projects.[/p][/quote]Where is £6 million supposed to be coming from? It is £3.1 million according to the article and at least £300,000 of that will need to be spent on refurbishing the old City Museum and Art Gallery for the staff who are being moved there.[/p][/quote]OK so now we have the bill for putting in the new offices in the Old Library ... £300k .... we can move forward. The key here is not the £2.8 million left but the potential to add this to the other capital receipts and then to plan strategically for the future. So let's crowd source. Anyone out their know the total capital pot for say the next five years.....? fightforfort
  • Score: 0

9:26pm Thu 24 Jul 14

fightforfort says...

fightforfort wrote:
New Kid on the Block wrote:
Rita Jelfs wrote:
With the 6 million received, pay off the 5 million of debt that's been borrowed on the money markets, in stages if necessary to avoid any penalties. The remaining 1 million, could be used to fill gaps in the Budget, specifically for measures that have the most significant effects, or on vulnerable members of the community, These are scarce taxpayer funds and should be allocated where they are most needed, not on pet projects.
Where is £6 million supposed to be coming from?
It is £3.1 million according to the article and at least £300,000 of that will need to be spent on refurbishing the old City Museum and Art Gallery for the staff who are being moved there.
OK so now we have the bill for putting in the new offices in the Old Library ... £300k .... we can move forward. The key here is not the £2.8 million left but the potential to add this to the other capital receipts and then to plan strategically for the future. So let's crowd source. Anyone out their know the total capital pot for say the next five years.....?
My apologies...... my spelling.....

OK so now we have the bill for putting in the new offices in the Old Library ... £300k .... we can move forward. The key here is not the £2.8 million left but the potential to add this to the other capital receipts and then to plan strategically for the future. So let's crowd source. Anyone out there know the total capital pot for say the next five years.....?
[quote][p][bold]fightforfort[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]New Kid on the Block[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Rita Jelfs[/bold] wrote: With the 6 million received, pay off the 5 million of debt that's been borrowed on the money markets, in stages if necessary to avoid any penalties. The remaining 1 million, could be used to fill gaps in the Budget, specifically for measures that have the most significant effects, or on vulnerable members of the community, These are scarce taxpayer funds and should be allocated where they are most needed, not on pet projects.[/p][/quote]Where is £6 million supposed to be coming from? It is £3.1 million according to the article and at least £300,000 of that will need to be spent on refurbishing the old City Museum and Art Gallery for the staff who are being moved there.[/p][/quote]OK so now we have the bill for putting in the new offices in the Old Library ... £300k .... we can move forward. The key here is not the £2.8 million left but the potential to add this to the other capital receipts and then to plan strategically for the future. So let's crowd source. Anyone out their know the total capital pot for say the next five years.....?[/p][/quote]My apologies...... my spelling..... OK so now we have the bill for putting in the new offices in the Old Library ... £300k .... we can move forward. The key here is not the £2.8 million left but the potential to add this to the other capital receipts and then to plan strategically for the future. So let's crowd source. Anyone out there know the total capital pot for say the next five years.....? fightforfort
  • Score: 0

5:42am Fri 25 Jul 14

Give Up! says...

1.5 million lottery ti
1.5 million lottery ti Give Up!
  • Score: 1

5:42am Fri 25 Jul 14

Give Up! says...

1.5 million lottery tickets
1.5 million lottery tickets Give Up!
  • Score: 1

1:40pm Fri 25 Jul 14

liketoknow says...

swimming pool /soccer stadium!
swimming pool /soccer stadium! liketoknow
  • Score: -2

2:44pm Fri 25 Jul 14

Jabbadad says...

Worcester are really lacking on Public Toilets once the shops such as M&S who have instore loos and Angel Street Loos are closed for the day.
The ones on the Cornmarket Carpark were all out of action, because the maintainace company had gone bust, and spares were difficult to locate. Perhaps a quick Bylaw allowing peeing in the streets could be brought in since this CONservative Council cannot even provide sufficient Loos. You would think that with the ammount of C__P they talk, loos would be at the top of the Agenda? Answers on a loo roll to the Guildhall please.
Worcester are really lacking on Public Toilets once the shops such as M&S who have instore loos and Angel Street Loos are closed for the day. The ones on the Cornmarket Carpark were all out of action, because the maintainace company had gone bust, and spares were difficult to locate. Perhaps a quick Bylaw allowing peeing in the streets could be brought in since this CONservative Council cannot even provide sufficient Loos. You would think that with the ammount of C__P they talk, loos would be at the top of the Agenda? Answers on a loo roll to the Guildhall please. Jabbadad
  • Score: -2

2:45pm Fri 25 Jul 14

Marant says...

Give Up! wrote:
1.5 million lottery ti
That would give you about a 1 in 10 chance of winning the jackpot. Which doesn't say much about the hopes of my single ticket...
[quote][p][bold]Give Up![/bold] wrote: 1.5 million lottery ti[/p][/quote]That would give you about a 1 in 10 chance of winning the jackpot. Which doesn't say much about the hopes of my single ticket... Marant
  • Score: 1

5:46pm Fri 25 Jul 14

Small Town says...

I'd construct a huge monument to the victims of that "lovable rogue" from Dines Green.
I'd construct a huge monument to the victims of that "lovable rogue" from Dines Green. Small Town
  • Score: -1

8:18pm Fri 25 Jul 14

BadgerMash says...

Truly affordable housing for rent only to local people.
Truly affordable housing for rent only to local people. BadgerMash
  • Score: -6

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