Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Is the Dome Doomed? Just Pounds 600,000 Left in Kitty for Landmark

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Is the Dome Doomed? Just Pounds 600,000 Left in Kitty for Landmark

Article excerpt

Byline: Adrian Pearson

THE extent of the "financial meltdown" facing a North East council has emerged as a multi-million pound overspend puts the future of the famous Whitley Bay Dome at risk.

Council leaders have warned there is just pounds 600,000 left for the unfinished Spanish Dome project, and have blamed previous Labour mayor John Harrison for failing to control a pounds 22.5m budget.

Tyneside Conservatives, who took over the council in June, say an overspend on the Playhouse Theatre and Waves Swimming Pool has

They cite a pounds 6.3m overspend which was allowed to build up as the previous administration repeatedly increased the budget rather than declare an official overspend.

Cash is so limited at the council there is "not even enough to make the Dome and its buildings wind and watertight".

And council officers are now searching Europe to find a private company prepared to finish off the work.

At a meeting next week Tory elected mayor Linda Arkley will reveal the findings in a report demanded by Conservative councillor Michael McIntyre after they took office.

Mr McIntrye told The Journal regen-eration projects had been placed "in Limbo" until funding could be secured.

The funding crisis has put the council's entire investment plan at risk. Currently there are pounds 9m worth of land sales already identified as a way of paying for a Strategic Investment Plan which should create jobs across the borough. Officers will now have to look for even more asset sales, at a time when councils across the country face up to falling land prices, if they want to revive Whitley Bay regeneration.

Phase two of the Dome works is expected to need up to pounds 3m extra, with several million pounds needed to fund Whitley park lighting works, phase two of the park's remodeling, road realignments and the creation of a piazza near the Dome.

Last night Mr McIntyre said: "We always said that it made no sense to spend even pounds 6m as Labour claimed, refurbishing an old pool, when for the same price we could have had a new pool built next to the Dome, which would have helped kick start the seafront regeneration. …

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