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Trust offers guarantee over £2m Dartmouth New pool project

Dartmouth could know within a fortnight if the town’s £2m swimming pool dream is finally safe.
Pool trustees have offered up an alternative to a £150,000 bond that South Hams Council was demanding before it would sign a lease for the Townstal site. Now the trust is waiting for the district council’s legal team to say whether the new offer is acceptable or not.
Trustee Ray Bridges said: ‘It has been sent to the council’s solicitors and a meeting is due to take place. We can’t make any progress until we have had the meeting.
‘That should take place in the next week or two. We are feeling pretty confident but it is a question of the district council agreeing.’
The 25m pool project – which the Dartmouth Indoor Pool Trust has spent the last five years putting together – was thrown into doubt just before Christmas when the trustees said they could not afford the financial bond the district council was demanding.
When they appealed for the council to waive the bond, district councillors said no – but they said they would ‘keep the door open’ if the trustees could come up with an acceptable alternative. That alternative is a Parent Company Guarantee involving construction company Kier which is committed to building the new pool, said Mr Bridges.
The council was demanding the bond before it signed a 99-year lease with the trustees for the swimming pool site next to the town’s leisure centre, to cover the possibility the trust could not complete the project and it ended up with a half-built pool on its land.
The Parent Company Guarantee means that Kier will guarantee it will build and complete the pool to the contract price of a little over £2m.
The pool is being funded with £1.5m from Devon County Council, £150,000 from Dartmouth Town Council – plus £10,000 a year over the next 10 years – and £50,000 from a London-based foundation.
The other £400,000 has been promised by South Hams Council along with the site in front of the existing leisure centre at Townstal.
South Hams Council said the bond was always going to be part of any lease arrangement, to protect the site next door to its leisure centre on a prominent gateway into the town.
The trustees had just won a final planning permission for the pool project when the problem over the bond suddenly reared its head – throwing the entire future of the scheme into doubt.
A spokesman for South Hams Council confirmed: ‘We are in the process of arranging a round table meeting of all parties: the contractor Kier, the Dartmouth and District Indoor Pool Trust and ourselves.

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