Trustees back pool with £75k
Dartmouth’s swimming pool trustees have agreed to risk £75,000 of their own cash to keep their indoor pool dream alive.
That is how much five trustees have put together as a bond to cover any overruns on the £2.1m pool project contract price.
The trust has been waiting more than three months to find out if South Hams Council will accept its alternative offer to the original £150,000 bond the district said it required before it would sign a lease on the land at Townstal, where the pool is due to be built. And the longer the delay, the more likely it is that the trust will see the price of the project begin to rise, warned trustee Ray Bridges.
‘It’s crunch time, and we hope it will be positive,’ he added.
Last week South Hams planners gave the go-ahead for the pool’s final design, which had to be reshaped with a scaled-down building and roof to keep the scheme within the £2.1m costing.
But the town and trustees have still to hear whether the project Dartmouth has been working towards for more than a decade will actually proceed.
Mr Bridges was adamant the trust would be able to bring it within the price agreed with the giant Kier Construction group, which is waiting to be given the green light to start building.
He pointed out that the trustees are so confident that they have agreed to come up with sureties between them worth £75,000, which could be called on to cover extra costs.
‘We believe we can do it for the price Kier have come up with – £2.1m,’ he stated. ‘We’re trying to get this clear to officers at the council that we’re confident we can build this building for the price we’ve put up – so confident that we’ve become guarantors for the price.’
He said the various trustees had agreed sums between them to add up to the £75,000 and that, if things did go wrong, the cost was likely to ‘make a dent in savings, but I don’ think anyone’s going to lose their home over it’.
The project hit crisis point last December when South Hams Council said it wanted a £150,000 bond to guarantee that the project would be complete before signing a lease over the district council-owned site next to the town’s leisure centre.
The council said it needed the bond to ensure that the prominent gateway-to-Dartmouth site could be restored if the pool scheme somehow collapsed.
The pool is being funded with £1.5m from Devon County Council, £150,000 from Dart-mouth Town Council and £50,000 from a London-based foundation.
The other £400,000 has been promised by South Hams Council along with the site, which comes with a 99-year lease.
The trustees protested that a cash bond would mean stripping the cash from the pot of money it needs to actually build the pool.
Since then they have had talks with councillors and officers over the possibility of Kier issuing a guarantee that the contract price will not go over the £2.1m bill and now about the surety from the five trustees.
This week a council spokes-man could not say when the trustees will be told whether their offer is acceptable, adding: ‘The process is moving forward, but as conversations are still ongoing we don’t wish to pre-empt any decision at this time.’
Mr Bridges said the continuing delays in getting the building work started could only put more pressure on the pool project.
‘Clearly, the delays aren’t going to help us keep it within budget,’ he stressed.