Rising cost for leisure centres plan is a ‘concern’ for Labour group

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Upgrades to leisure centres in Leamington and Warwick are likely to cost millions of pounds more than first expected, causing concern for Warwick district’s Labour Group.

But Warwick District Council culture portfolio holder, Cllr Michael Coker, has explained the reasons for the rising bill and said they are necessary to ensure the works are done to as high a standard as possible.

The initial cost of the upgrades, which will double the size of Newbold Comyn Leisure Centre and extend St Nicholas Park Leisure Centre, was expected to be about
£12 million but could now go up to nearly £15 million.

Labour group leader Cllr John Barrott said that the council initially told councillors that it could invest 
£3 million to keep the centres running, but with a £12 million investment it could have “new, fit-for-the-future facilities”. 
He added: “In less than nine months the costs have increased dramatically. While we welcomed the investment in our facilities at the time, we do wonder if the public were given all the figures.

“Given the spiralling costs we are saying that we may prefer to invest only the £3 million short-term while councillors and officers satisfy themselves that the financial risks can be properly controlled.”

But Cllr Coker said: “The initial cost was only indicative and has been subject to all sorts of design changes and matters unknown to us at the time, such as a need for new water, gas and electricity.”

Cllr Coker added that other additional expenses, such as a requirement by Sports England for an improvement of lifts, had not been foreseen.

He said: “I’m not pleased the expenses are going up but we want to make sure what we end up with is very well provided and constructed leisure centres which will last us for the next 30 years.”

A final decision on the project will be made in October.