The big gamble: Scarborough bets all its reserves on Spa

A COUNCIL is to stake every penny of its capital reserve on a £4m scheme to redevelop Scarborough Spa after a warning the building could "fall to bits" if the project runs out of money.

After a stormy debate yesterday, a full meeting of Scarborough Borough Council agreed to commit its entire emergency fund for building works to cover a 800,000 shortfall for 2010-11 left by Yorkshire Forward cuts, which were confirmed last week.

The proposal led to warnings from some councillors wary about gambling with the capital reserve and hoping the cut is merely a deferral. If regional development agency Yorkshire Forward fails to make good the money in the following financial year there will be nothing in the bank for other big projects.

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But Tory council leader Tom Fox warned them the project had already passed the point of no return. All the floorboards in the Spa Grand Hall were up, he said, and it was essential the town hall be able to carry on signing cheques to keep the scheme going.

"If we don't, we have a white elephant out there and no one will be proud of it, " he added.

Independent Coun Norman Murphy poured scorn on the idea the building was in danger but was rebuked by Coun Colin Haddington who added: "This council will face national criticism if it lets this historic, iconic building fall to bits."

Independent councillors believe the odds are stacked against the council getting anything back in 2011-12.

Councillors voted 31 to 11 in favour of committing the funds.