Uttoxeter is set to benefit from a huge cash injection towards a new leisure centre following the sale of Bretby Crematorium.
East Staffordshire Borough Council and South Derbyshire District Council confirmed the crematorium will be sold to the Midlands Co-operative Society meaning the money is now available for a new Uttoxeter Leisure Centre East Staffordshire is set to receive £4.6 million of the money from the sale.
Councillor Richard Grosvenor, the borough council’s leader, said: “Now we have exchanged contracts we are hoping to spend the capital receipts on a number of projects and the Uttoxeter Leisure Centre is definitely one of them.
“It does not mean we won’t be spending money on other projects as we intend to spend it on around four or five.
“We are going to spend the money across the borough.” However, he blasted Labour plans for not wanting to sell the crematorium which would have taken away the main source of funding for the centre.
This would add seven to eight percent to the annual council tax bills for residents in East Staffordshire.
“Labour are not being honest with local voters as to how they would find the £4 million to pay for the leisure centre,” said Councillor Grosvenor.
“They would either have to cut services or borrow the money, which would then cost £400,000 a year to pay back.
“Their unfunded promise would add seven to eight per cent to council tax bills, hitting pensioners and people on low incomes the hardest.” The sale has caused some controversy among residents wanting to keep it under public control and those who fear for their loved ones whose final resting place is at the crematorium.
In confirming the sale was definitely going ahead, a spokesman for both councils said: “Having listened to residents’ concern, over the last few weeks East Staffordshire Borough Council and South Derbyshire District Council have been negotiating with Midlands Co-operative Society to obtain the best deal for the people of East Staffordshire and South Derbyshire.
“This is very much a case of the ‘public said’ and ‘we did’.
“We have been successful in negotiating on behalf of residents and to this end have secured a legally binding agreement with Midlands Cooperative Society that caps crematorium prices at a level below that likely to have been set under council ownership; maintains existing access arrangements for families and keeps the crematorium to its current excellent standard.
“The deal also includes a financial investment of £250,000 by Midlands Co-operative Society to improve the facilities available at the crematorium.
“As a result of the sale, we will be able to use this significant capital receipt to kick-start further benefit in our communities and neighbourhoods.”