Your article ‘Questions posed over £9 million waterpark loan’ asks if the council should have taken a legal charge over the waterpark as security for its loan of public money? Given the secrecy surrounding the arrangements made between the council and Benchmark Leisure it’s difficult to know whether the council’s cabinet or the opposition Labour councillors are correct.
However, I think that there are additional issues regarding the North Bay development generally:
1) In these times of austerity, was it appropriate to risk £9 million of public money funding a luxury private waterpark?
2) The waterpark opened several months later than originally scheduled in 2016. The completion date for Benchmark’s current project of the multiplex cinema/restaurants/apartments has also already been postponed from autumn 2018 to Easter 2019.
The wellness spa at the waterpark still hasn’t opened despite featuring in its publicity map since 2016.
3) The council’s capital budget plan includes spending £500,000 to demolish the old indoor pool building before selling the site to Benchmark as “special purchaser”.
However, the site is only adjacent to (and therefore not already part of the Benchmark Development Agreement land) so why are Benchmark being treated as a special purchaser?
If the council really wants to sell the land at market value why is it not being offered on the open market to the highest bidder? Why is the taxpayer funding the demolition work?
4) The closure of the old indoor pool and its gym has left North Bay residents with no publicly funded sports facilities for health and fitness in their neighbourhood.
I think that £500,000 would be better spent on repairing the old indoor pool and reopening it rather than demolishing it.
5) Benchmark are proposing to convert some land next to the waterpark into a glamping site.
The council’s planning application website shows 30 objections to this project, primarily from neighbouring residents.