A RADICAL budget put forward by the Independent Alliance Group (IAG) at Wednesday’s full council meeting included building a new community leisure centre with a sports hall and swimming pool, on Sanders Park and moving the council offices back into Burcot Lane.
By refurbishing the former Council House, the group said it would help preserve the Spadesbourne Suite and would also retain the Burcot Hostel for the homeless as part of a ‘Future of Bromsgrove’ strategy.
The IAG plan also included a proposal to convert the part of Parkside used by the district council into either a town centre living space or office accommodation. The group said it would sell off the Dolphin Centre site for housing, retaining a 100-space car park.
The IAG added it would urge the head of planning to set up agreements with developers for leisure contributions for the new community and sports centre.
In order to pay for items proposed, the IAG would close the Dolphin Centre immediately to save the authority the £436,000 annual running costs, support a 1.9 per cent rise in the district’s portion of the council tax, reduce the IT budget by £120,000, reinstate the evening car parking charges and take £369,000 for 2016/7 operating budgets.
IAG leader Coun Sue Baxter said: “The criticality of the Government cuts and cost of paying off the loans for town centre projects cannot be underestimated.
“We cannot stand by and watch the district’s reserves be spent on the rebuild of the Dolphin centre and pay for the council to move offices.
“We are unhappy these projects will be paid for from cash reserves, the unsustainable new homes bonus and council tax rises.”
Coun Charles Hotham said the measures were radical but necessary.
“With Government cuts to the revenue support grant and likely removal of the new homes bonus this leaves Bromsgrove in a precarious position of knowing how to pay back loans for town centre projects without reducing its reserves down to its minimum.”
The Labour Group said it could not support the budget as it believed it was illegal to build a sports complex on Sanders Park and it added, although it believed the move to Parkside had wasted millions of pounds, to move again would waste even more cash.
It added it also supported free evening parking.