The Executive Member for Financial Sustainability presented a report on the Castle Park Improvement Project. He said that the council had been working with Bishop’s Stortford Town Council on plans to improve and enhance the area and had secured £2 million of funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund which covered most of the costs.
Councillor Williamson said that the project went out to tender and the best value price was £500,000 over budget due to higher costs in construction. A value engineering exercise was completed which resulted in some savings and secured further funding which brought the budget gap down to £350,000. He said that all the funding was at risk if the council did not proceed. Bishop’s Stortford Town Council have offered to purchase the Bishop’s Park Community Centre for a capital receipt to fund the East Herts share of the shortfall. They had also requested the option to purchase St Michael’s Mead and Havers Community Centres with an options sum of £15,000 payable now. He said the recommendation was to sell the Bishop’s Park community centre for £160,000 plus the £15,000 options fund to raise the £175,000 required. The other two community centres would provide £270,000 in capital receipts. He said it was important to note that the council did not receive any income from the centres but bared the maintenance liabilities.
Councillor McAndrew said he was the chair of the Castle Park Steering Group and said it was good to see the results of the project coming to fruition. He said he was happy to support the proposals.
Councillor Buckmaster said that as the Portfolio Holder for parks and open spaces, he was pleased to see the project moving forward. He said he was grateful to the Officers who have come up with innovative solutions to meet the budget challenge. He said that the project would bring the community together and have a great benefit to all residents.
Councillor Haysey said that the community centres were currently managed by the Town Council and this solution gives them an additional level of freedom. She confirmed that the centres were protected assets so the Town Council would not be able to sell the land for residential development. She thanked Officers for the work done on the project.
Councillor Williamson proposed, and Councillor Buckmaster seconded a motion supporting the recommendations in the report. On being put to the meeting and a vote taken, the motion was declared CARRIED.
– that (A) the sale of Bishop’s
Park community centre to Bishop’s Stortford Town Council be
the capital receipt from the sale of Bishop’s
Park community centre (£160,000) contributes to the funding
gap for the Castle Park project;
option agreement on St Michael’s Mead community centre and
Havers community centre be approved;
a £30,000 reduction for liabilities of over
years is deducted from the final sale price of all three centres be
(E) an options sum of £15,000 is required from BSTC to secure the option agreement which will be used to secure the project funding gap and to compensate EHC should the sale of the remaining two centres not proceed.