Kellingley Social Club: £6m community hub funding withdrawn over claims ‘shambles’ plan
The project at Kellingley Social Club in Wakefield was abandoned in favour of a fresh report into the facility. Senior councillors had been expected to approve spending £5.9m to create the Knottingley Community Hub at the “dilapidated” site. The funding would have enabled phase one of the project to begin by refurbishing Kellingley Sports Pavilion.
Council leader Denise Jeffery told cabinet members that the agenda item had been deferred in favour of another “all options report.” It came after Knottingley councillor Tom Gordon described the cabinet report into the spending as “a shambles.” Coun Gordon, Liberal Democrat group leader at Wakefield Council, said residents in his ward were angry over proposals to provide community services on licensed premises.
He said: “The report talks around providing health opportunities at a pub. It is reckless, dangerous, and frankly ethically wrong to ask people who may have a history of substance abuse, or need help, support or training, or need to access employment, or have suffered abuse, to go get help at a licensed premises. You would not find a job centre or citizens advice where you can get a pint while you visit.”
The cabinet report says the newly refurbished building would have two separate entrances to provide segregation between community and social functions. The full cost of the project is estimated to be £10.7m, mainly due to the poor condition of the building.
The report states: “The club building has suffered from a lack of investment over a period of years that has resulted in the building becoming dated and less appealing to the wider community of Knottingley. The building is still viewed to be an important part of the community due to its heritage and standing and therefore the project was progressed to address both these issues and ensure a safe, modern and accessible building was delivered for a range of uses for the benefit of Knottingley.”
Coun Gordon said: “The report put to cabinet was an absolute shambles of the highest order. There were parts that needed clarification, and portions which were fundamentally false and needed withdrawing. When I spoke with colleagues at the Lib Dem LGA (Local Government Association) about this last week, they suggested asking for the council’s auditors and potentially even a government commissioner to be called in.
“What started out as a £1m refurbishment for a sports pavilion has now wildly gotten out of control. The council could see that same money spent and invested in a range of community venues such as Knottingley Town Hall, or Ferrybridge Community Centre. The Labour leadership in Wakefield Town Hall must stop with their pet projects and instead listen to the people of Knottingley and deliver what they want.
“My worry is that we don’t get the Levelling Up Funding (LUF) bid for the sports facilities on the former swimming pool site. The council won’t have the money to invest themselves, if they have instead spent £10m on putting lipstick on a pig that no one but the Labour Party wants.
“With the money, time and effort already expended, the council could have built a sports centre.”