Council: ‘We couldn’t sell off the PRSA’


Council bosses have said that selling off the Princess Royal Sports Arena would not be a viable option.

As news broke this week that the total capital cost of the project could now stretch to £7.1 million, Boston Borough Council leader Peter Bedford confirmed that the facility could not be sold off without facing repaying those who gave grants to get it built.

“It would mean having to pay an awful lot of money back to the original grant providers,” he explained.

A council spokesman revealed the time limit on the grants, which included a condition not to sell the building, means the PRSA cannot be sold until 2028 – 25 years from 2003.

Councillors will look to invest £1.4 million in Boston’s leisure facilities in a plan to make the PRSA self-sufficient.

The borough council has this week revealed an aim for its ‘umbilical cord to be cut’ as it looks to find a way to stop having to pay out to the PRSA each year.

The authority reckons energy efficiency measures will recover more than the entire cost of the cash that now needs to be spent on the sporting facility.

The council’s environment and performance committee will be asked to agree that the authority digs into its capital reserve to find the £560,000 needed to fund energy effiency measures – such as biomass heating – at the PRSA and Geoff Moulder Leisure Complex.

Over the period of a 10-year lease £840,000 also needs to be spent on ‘repairs and commerical investment’ on the PRSA.

The council says its energy measures at the two sites will bring in £1.5 million - more than covering the PRSA works and cost of installation - with the cash made going back into the capital reserves.

It is hoped that the money spent now will help lead the PRSA towards having a full repairing and insuring lease - something the council describes as its ‘primary focus’ for the facility.

In 2013/14 the PRSA attracted 1,270 gym members and 15,000 swim visits.

The council says that these figures are expected to rise in both areas in 2014/15.

The idea for the PRSA was first developed in the late 1990s with an expected cost to the council of £3 million.

A report to the environment and performance committee, which will discuss the PRSA on Wednesday, says a similar arrangement with Peter Paine Sports Centre has been a success.

It required significant investment, beyond what the council could afford. In 2011 it was taken on by Boston College, who could get money the council could not.

It has undergone a big transformation thanks to investment of more than £2 million from 2011/12 to 2014/15. User numbers have risen since 2012/13 from 21,000 to 26,000 in 2013/14 and an estimated 30,000 for 2014/15.

A partnership between the council and the Witham Academies Federation and the Boston Amateur Swimming Club is hailed as helping bring about similar improvements in the fortunes of the Geoff Moulder Leisure Complex. As a result the training pool was reopened and use of the pools and gym have grown significantly year on year.