We won’t bankrupt city for a new pool

Worcester News: Councillor Andy Roberts, cabinet member for finance, said: “We are committed to this and want it to host races and competitions, but we’ve got to take finances into consideration." Councillor Andy Roberts, cabinet member for finance, said: “We are committed to this and want it to host races and competitions, but we’ve got to take finances into consideration."

DOUBTS are being expressed over whether Worcester can afford a new £13.5 million swimming pool – with politicians saying they won’t bankrupt the city council to make it happen.

Ahead of a debate next Tuesday over the issue, calls are being made for council chiefs to explore ways of funding the £5.2 million funding gap.

Councillor Liz Smith, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said “we can’t afford something we can’t afford” and she has urged caution over burdening taxpayers with more debt.

As your Worcester News revealed yesterday, a business case has been published suggesting only a scaled-down, non-county standard pool is close to being affordable at the moment.

Coun Smith said: “The funding issue will be here for a long time.

“I don’t want to make an off-the-cuff response, but we can’t afford something we can’t afford, basically.

“If there’s other ways around it, we will have to see, but if we are being asked to back something, it must be affordable.”

Other politicians said they wanted council leaders to explore help from potential third parties, like the university.

Councillor Paul Denham, deputy leader of the Labour group, said: “It would seem short-sighted to build a pool which is newer, but no better than the one at Sansome Walk.

“Having a county-standard one is preferable, but it has to be sensible as taxpayers will pick up the borrowing costs.

“Borrowing more is not an option. The problem is I don’t know where the money will come from.”

The Conservative leadership is due to make an announcement early next week about the next move.

Councillor Andy Roberts, cabinet member for finance, said: “We are committed to this and want it to host races and competitions, but we’ve got to take finances into consideration.

“I am not pre-judging anything but I guess the council will ask us to explore ways of meeting the funding gap.”

The report says a non-county standard £10.7 million pool has a funding gap of £192,000, compared to £5.2 million for a county-standard one.

Both options will require borrowing of about £7-10 million, paid back over 40 years at four per cent interest.

Once a new pool is built, the one in Sansome Walk will be demolished and the land sold, with £500,000 being added to the funding pot.

Comments (9)

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8:51am Thu 28 Feb 13

spider666 says...

They've probably got that much pocket money tucked away in an Icelandic bank account or invested in tobacco firms.
They've probably got that much pocket money tucked away in an Icelandic bank account or invested in tobacco firms. spider666

9:16am Thu 28 Feb 13

Landy44 says...

WOW - Is this an inkling of common sense and reality manifesting itself?

WN headlines on this get sillier and sillier.

We don't have the money for this.

Yes, it would be lovely to have, and we can see all the benefits of having it, but there simply is no cash to pay for it.

ANYTHING that requires councils borrowing right now at a time when they should be looking to reduce their spend anyway is stark raving bonkers!!!!

A 40yr payback period at 4% - If you are a taxpayer they are spending your money that you don't have! Are they completely mad even considering this? I think you'll find the answer, sad to say is "yes". The council is simply continuing to show it's financial incompetence, but "it's ok" because none of the individuals agreeing to this will be around for a big portion of the next 40yrs so they won't have to take responsibility!!!
WOW - Is this an inkling of common sense and reality manifesting itself? WN headlines on this get sillier and sillier. We don't have the money for this. Yes, it would be lovely to have, and we can see all the benefits of having it, but there simply is no cash to pay for it. ANYTHING that requires councils borrowing right now at a time when they should be looking to reduce their spend anyway is stark raving bonkers!!!! A 40yr payback period at 4% - If you are a taxpayer they are spending your money that you don't have! Are they completely mad even considering this? I think you'll find the answer, sad to say is "yes". The council is simply continuing to show it's financial incompetence, but "it's ok" because none of the individuals agreeing to this will be around for a big portion of the next 40yrs so they won't have to take responsibility!!! Landy44

9:32am Thu 28 Feb 13

RobertR says...

Everyone thought that Icelandic banks were the bees knees for investment a few years ago. Why not have it the "never never" or PFI as you'll never finish paying for it. The Ponzi schemes have nothing on that.A master stroke of financial smoke and mirrors.
Everyone thought that Icelandic banks were the bees knees for investment a few years ago. Why not have it the "never never" or PFI as you'll never finish paying for it. The Ponzi schemes have nothing on that.A master stroke of financial smoke and mirrors. RobertR

9:57am Thu 28 Feb 13

Andy (Ledbury) says...

There is nothing fundamentally wrong in borrowing for capital projects if there is full cost recovery from the users.
There is nothing fundamentally wrong in borrowing for capital projects if there is full cost recovery from the users. Andy (Ledbury)

10:24am Thu 28 Feb 13

pronstar says...

I would have thought that now is a good time to invest since interest rates are low and the revenue that it generates can help pay for the borrowing.

The thing that is more of an issue for me is that whenever public servants are in charge of a budget, they always allow the private sector to skank them out of all proportion.

Whether this is down to incompetence, corruption or some other factor, I don't know, but it seems to me whenever the public is paying, things cost several times what they ought to.

If a private company built a new, comparable pool as a business venture, I bet it would cost less than half of the figure the council are proposing.
I would have thought that now is a good time to invest since interest rates are low and the revenue that it generates can help pay for the borrowing. The thing that is more of an issue for me is that whenever public servants are in charge of a budget, they always allow the private sector to skank them out of all proportion. Whether this is down to incompetence, corruption or some other factor, I don't know, but it seems to me whenever the public is paying, things cost several times what they ought to. If a private company built a new, comparable pool as a business venture, I bet it would cost less than half of the figure the council are proposing. pronstar

11:28am Thu 28 Feb 13

carlaadams says...

A new swimming pool we do not need one. What we do need and what alot of people would love is an ice rink. Malvern is a really small town and they have one so why cant Worcester..
A new swimming pool we do not need one. What we do need and what alot of people would love is an ice rink. Malvern is a really small town and they have one so why cant Worcester.. carlaadams

12:52pm Thu 28 Feb 13

Landy44 says...

@pronstar - Completely agree regarding public servants being in charge of a budget - I don't know why it always costs more either, but something there is seriously not working.
When you realise elected officials at all levels make commitments but are rarely around long enough to bear the consequences/blame you can start to see the weakness in the system.

They are talking about £13.5million now, which generally means during the course of the project we can expect it to come to anything between £18 - 28million in reality.

@Andy (Ledbury) In terms of borrowing for capital projects, generally I'd agree from a business perspective, but given how in debt this country is - (most people don't seem to comprehend the severity nor the now inevitable consequences) - now is not the time to be doing so with public money. They should be looking for more genuine savings and making more cutbacks than the meagre amount already made. What investment there is, should be directed to building a sustainable economy in the area.
@pronstar - Completely agree regarding public servants being in charge of a budget - I don't know why it always costs more either, but something there is seriously not working. When you realise elected officials at all levels make commitments but are rarely around long enough to bear the consequences/blame you can start to see the weakness in the system. They are talking about £13.5million now, which generally means during the course of the project we can expect it to come to anything between £18 - 28million in reality. @Andy (Ledbury) In terms of borrowing for capital projects, generally I'd agree from a business perspective, but given how in debt this country is - (most people don't seem to comprehend the severity nor the now inevitable consequences) - now is not the time to be doing so with public money. They should be looking for more genuine savings and making more cutbacks than the meagre amount already made. What investment there is, should be directed to building a sustainable economy in the area. Landy44

2:28pm Thu 28 Feb 13

Give Up! says...

They saved money on not completing a ring road and regret it now..... go for it and do it right first time. There has to be some private finance interested in partnership to make up the difference. What is the point in spending that money that will be described as not fit for purpose in 10 years. Spend the money and build something the city will be proud of..
They saved money on not completing a ring road and regret it now..... go for it and do it right first time. There has to be some private finance interested in partnership to make up the difference. What is the point in spending that money that will be described as not fit for purpose in 10 years. Spend the money and build something the city will be proud of.. Give Up!

1:04am Fri 1 Mar 13

Jabbadad says...

Since the University are delivering on all the projects that they get involved in (apart from car parking still a disaster was there today and some visitors were taking 35 minutes to find even a paid space), they have to considered as partners, and YES we have to look at a size of pool for the future requirements it's called being pro-active. Our Councils both City and County are sadly re-active, or have little business acumen of foresight..
Since the University are delivering on all the projects that they get involved in (apart from car parking still a disaster was there today and some visitors were taking 35 minutes to find even a paid space), they have to considered as partners, and YES we have to look at a size of pool for the future requirements it's called being pro-active. Our Councils both City and County are sadly re-active, or have little business acumen of foresight.. Jabbadad

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