WORKINGTON MP Mark Jenkinson has blasted Cumberland’s Labour leadership for doubling down on their decision to pull the plug on a new swimming pool for Maryport.
The former Conservative-led Allerdale Borough Council secured £5m from Government alongside further funding from their own capital reserves to build the community venue at the Wave Centre.
The Executive of the new Labour-led Cumberland council - which took over in April following local government reform – then decided to torpedo the plans last month, cutting over £5m worth of investment in the town – amid claims that the running costs are too high.
Members of Cumberland’s own Place Overview and Scrutiny Committee then asked the Executive to reconsider the decision not to proceed with the development – an option the leadership has now rejected.
Mark Jenkinson said: “This decision is hugely disappointing, in and of itself, but even more so because it was made in secret by a cabal of councillors afraid to face the public or answer questions.
“Instead, Cumberland leaders have adopted a bunker mentality and would prefer to let their officers face the music. This smacks of rank cowardice
“It was within the executive’s gift to release documentation in the interests of transparency and accountability, but they chose to conduct proceedings entirely in a closed meeting.
“To say they couldn’t take a so-called ‘risk’ based on figures they are not prepared to discuss in public is as disingenuous as it is spineless.
“The former Allerdale council’s budget was less than three per cent of the new authority’s – and yet Allerdale had been able to approve the business plan for the swimming pool in March. They would not have been able to take this shovel-ready project forward in the first place without the blessing of Section 151 Officers.
“Cumberland has been talking about a ‘Plan B’ but Minister Dehenna Davison has already indicated to me that the £5m government investment is now under threat.
"Indeed, Cumberland has now stated that they don’t think they could even have built the pool in time to save the funding, so what chance is there if they have to go back to the drawing board?
“The leaders at Cumberland appear to have no vision, no ambition: and seem quite happy to preside over the managed decline of towns like Maryport rather than making a concerted effort to revive their fortunes.
“Cumberland hasn’t got a plan A, B or C – it is painfully obvious that they have no plan at all.”