Plans to flood Kenilworth Castle mere are going round in circles as councillors sent the matter back to its executive to take another look at the controversial proposal.
At a meeting of Warwick District Council on Wednesday, members agreed that the executive should discuss plans again after being completely against their first decision.
Earlier this year the Conservative-led executive approved a spend of up to £120,000 on a feasibility study into reflooding a small part of the castle’s mere which was drained over 350 years ago.
This decision was not taken favourably by either the overview and scrutiny or finance and audit committees and it was called in to be discussed by the whole council.
But when given chance to make recommendations on Wednesday, members agreed the meeting had already gone on ‘very late’ and that the executive should reconsider with the opposition in mind.
Speaking at the meting, Cllr Ann Blacklock (Lib Dem, Abbey), chair of the O&S committee, said: “We were disappointed that the executive had not listened to the people.
“Both scrutiny groups opposed what the executive said. This council should not be committing any money to something so speculative at this time.
“There are very many people struggling and that is where we should be putting our money.”
Cllr George Illingworth (Con, Abbey) said he was “delighted” the decision had been called in as there were far more worthy projects in the town which could instead benefit from the cash.
If the ambitious project went ahead it would cost millions of pounds and require funding, possibly from a hotel or leisure firm.
In a residents’ survey which had 1,8000 respondents, 57 percent agreed to the idea of the mere. But this figure dropped to just 36 percent when put alongside a leisure complex or hotel.
Cllr Tony Heath (Ind, Whitnash) said to spend anywhere near £20,000, let alone £120,000 on something which “might not make any difference” to anyone was absurd.
Cllr John Barrott (Lab, Leam) questioned why they would consider a project the town doesn’t want, and Cllr Alan Boad (Lib, Leam) accused the council of ignoring the public.
“We consulted residents, and then said we don’t like your answer so we are going to do it anyway,” he said.
“We know this is not popular and what kind of message is that sending out?”
But Cllr Andrew Mobbs (Con, Park Hill) insisted that the scheme would be beneficial to the whole district.
“This is a mere £25,000 to explore how we as a council can further the tourist offering and create new jobs and businesses,” he said.
“We are only talking about funding a feasibility study. This is a message to the public that we are prepared to see the bigger picture and invest in our future.”
The executive will discuss the matter over the next few months and the decision taken to the scrutiny committees.