CHESHIRE West and Chester Council is “awash with money” as a result of underspending by millions, according to Frodsham councillors Lynn Riley and Andrew Dawson.
They claim there is a desperate need for new leisure facilities in Frodsham and that the Labour-controlled council should spend some of it in the town.
Cllr Riley, leader of the Conservative opposition group said: “We are lobbying the council for a £2m investment to kickstart a new A56 leisure corridor and are determined that the area will not be left behind.
“The council has an opportunity to do what’s right and what has been needed for some time.
“Local facilities are tired and we are tired of waiting patiently whilst other areas get the funding to upgrade their facilities. If the Labour run council care about the health and wellbeing of residents in Frodsham they should do the right thing and come forward with the cash. We will fight this every step of the way to ensure that Frodsham is not left on the side-lines while other areas benefit.”
In 2009, the leisure strategy assessed all facilities in Cheshire West and came up with an action list of tier1 and tier 2 areas.
Significant investment was made by the council in the first phase at the Northwich Memorial Court, Ellesmere Port, Chester Baths and Northgate. Frodsham was supposed to be next in line but the £9m earmarked in 2015 has since been prioritised for Neston, Winsford and Chester.
“With underspends on both the council’s revenue and capital budgets in recent years and the £6m surplus on council tax, it’s time to invest in the north of the borough and put the considerable council tax collected here to good use,” added Cllr Riley
“Frodsham Junior Football Club is working with Cheshire FA to deliver much needed 3G and grass pitch improvements at Helsby High School but needs a sizeable amount of match funding to deliver these and a long wanted club house.
“Cheshire West can fund this gap from the Innovation Fund set aside to reduce costs to the council.
“The real return on this investment is that local volunteers run the facilities once they are built, so reducing costs to the tax payers.”
Cllr Dawson added: “If we can secure this commitment, we can start to make headway on a masterplan for the land around the medical/leisure centre that we have been pushing for since 2015.”
“Other funding is required for upgrades in Frodsham leisure centre and for a redesign of the Saltworks fields. Helsby Sports and Social Club is also soon to start construction of its new facility and sports pitches and with a funding injection from CW&C can deliver the full scheme.”
But Cllr Louise Gittins, CW&C’s lead member for Communities, said: “Despite experiencing shrinking budgets as a result of Government cuts, the Labour administration in Cheshire West is absolutely committed to improving leisure provision across the Borough. I am sure that residents of Neston, Winsford and Chester would be surprised and concerned by the suggestion that the we should not be supporting projects in those areas.
“I’m really pleased to be able to highlight our exciting ideas for the A56 leisure corridor, which will provide new leisure opportunities in Frodsham and Helsby; including a new 3G pitch at Helsby High School for Frodsham Junior Football Club and school and community use, as well as a redesign of Saltworks fields, which provide for a greater and varied leisure offer.
“Over the past few months I have met many volunteers and groups in Frodsham and am aware of their needs and aspirations and I fully support them – hence the development of Labour’s plans under the banner A56 leisure corridor.
“Finally, I would gently point out that the Conservative group led by Cllr Riley had every opportunity to identify any additional funds when they proposed their alternative budget earlier this year, but they failed to do so.”
Mike Garvey, Labour’s candidate for Frodsham in next year’s local elections added: “We’ve had the same Conservative Councillors in Frodsham since this council was established almost a decade ago and they were in charge of it for almost all of that time. As a local resident, I have to question why they didn’t do more for the town when they had the chance.
“Despite facing millions of pounds in Tory cuts, our Labour Council have some really exciting plans for the A56 leisure corridor, including in Frodsham. If we are to see them succeed, we need our local councillors to stop complaining and instead start engaging with residents, partners and council officers to make these aspirations a reality.”