The leader of Boston Borough Council reckons the Princess Royal Sports Arena (PRSA) ‘will fly’ after work is carried out at the centre.
Coun Peter Bedford predicted a bright future for the facility at a meeting of the authority’s environmental and performance scrutiny committee on Wednesday.
At that meeting (see right) councillors backed the authority’s plan to bring an end to the long-running saga of the PRSA and stop it being a burden on the public purse.
The council hopes that by spending £840,000 on the PRSA now it will be able to get it up to scratch to be leased out.
Coun Bedford explained that the council had been investigating how to sort the PRSA for three-and-a-half years.
He said: “When we started to look at this as an aspiration, we thought it would be straight forward... it wasn’t.
“We’re now three-and-a-half years down the line and it has taken this length of time to get to the bottom of everything.”
He blamed previous administrations for ‘messing up’ on keeping official records, saying the council had ‘never had leases in place and had not signed anywhere’.
Coun Bedford added there was no legal ‘agreement with the rugby club’ and said the Boston Sports Initiative, set up to manage the PRSA, had been ‘a disaster’.
He said: “This is the time now, to get hold of it and put it on a proper footing.”
He wanted inspiration to be taken from the council’s reopening of the training pool at Geoff Moulder which he described as a ‘great success’.
Coun Bedford explained that the rugby club will have a to pay a ‘proper rent’ but said they would retain the food area ‘as is correct, it’s their bar’.
He added: “There are many things that can happen and will be put in place.”
He said he was convinced having a biomass boiler is the right way forward and reckoned it would get a ‘pretty return’. He added: “That place, once it’s on proper footing, will fly, that I’m quite certain.”
Councillors supported plans to spend £1.4 million on leisure services in Boston – including £840,000 specifically for the PRSA.
The other £560,000 will fund energy efficiency projects at the PRSA and the Geoff Moulder Leisure Centre.
At the environment and performance scrutiny committee on Wednesday, members agreed all 10 recommendations, including helping Boston Sports Initiative – the group set up to manage the PRSA – come to an end.
Coun Helen Staples said she had had a change of heart over the arena. She said: “It’s very tired and needs a lot of investment, but its a marvellous facility.”
However, she said it had been an ‘extremely costly’ one to the taypayer and she wanted a ‘cast iron assurance’ that it would no longer be a financial burden after this.
Strategic director Rob Barlow said that would depend on the final deal and subsequent lease, adding:“It’s a crucial deal and needs all the due diligence.“
The energy initiatives include biomass boilers and solar panels among others.
Coun David Witts, who himself has a biomass boiler, said: “I’ve long been a supporter of biomass and have been singing its praises for a long time. It’s an extremely efficient way to generate energy.”
Coun Paul Kenny was the only councillor present who didn’t vote in favour of the recommendations.
Questions also arose from the public gallery on the subject of costs and on the role of the rugby club for its running of the clubhouse – but others praised the contribution of the club to the arena.
The council hopes the plans will save £1.75 million on running the PRSA over 10 years. The projected income and energy savings of both the PRSA and GMLC over the next 20 years could be up to £2,407,000.