£620k 3G pitch row to be debated
Richard Evans – Local Democracy Reporter
An ‘undemocratic’ decision to spend £620,000 on a 3G pitch ‘without going through proper processes’ will be debated at Bodlondeb on Monday.
Now an athletics club is complaining the council’s spending has jeopardised their chances of a new running track at Eirias Park.
Conwy submitted a multi-million-pound Levelling-Up Fund bid to the UK Government for a new 3G pitch at Eirias Park.
Had the bid been successful, the funds would have also been used to increase the capacity of Parc Eirias Stadium in Colwyn Bay, which would have meant a new south stand being built as well as changing rooms, medical rooms, and a media area.
The bid failed yet Conwy still spent the funds on the 3G pitch, leading to a motion being submitted by the Conservative Party, questioning how the decision was reached without going through the ‘proper’ democratic process.
The councillors who have tabled the motion now want the Wales Audit Office to review the decision-making processes.
Colwyn Bay Athletics Club also say they were promised a new athletics track but claim the ‘ring-fenced’ money is no longer available following the failed bid to secure the funds.
The club claims money put aside for the new track was instead allocated to the amount needed for match-funding as part of the failed bid – and lost.
Cllr Louise Emery said the 3G pitch should not have been paid for once the levelling-up bid failed.
“In my eyes, the whole capital business case is finished. Gone to bed. End of,” she said.
“The first that anybody heard about the pitch being done in terms of local members was lorries trundling onto the pitch pulling up turf, and they didn’t tell residents they were doing it, which was really unusual.
“Everyone was saying ‘how is this being done?’ It definitely wasn’t me that signed it off (as the previous cabinet member), and it did not say in the (levelling-up) report ‘if we don’t get the bid we are still going to do the pitch’, and it certainly didn’t say ‘we are going to nick the money from the track to do the pitch’.”
She added: “How have they done this because it is over half a million quid. So anything over half a million pounds has to come to full council.
“Anything over a quarter of a million pounds has to be scrutinised by the senior leadership team. It makes no sense why this has been done. This is just not right.”
Crispin Backshall is the treasurer at Colwyn Bay Athletics Club and says there is no sign of a new athletics track at Eirias Park and also questioned the decision-making process.
“I’m absolutely horrified and gutted,” he said. “We haven’t had a competition here now for six years, and the reason being is that the track is not up to standard.”
The finance resources and overview scrutiny committee meeting takes place on Monday.
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