TEIGNMOUTH'S tired Broadmeadow sports centre is to get a £3.7 million revamp.
District councillors have voted to transform the facilities, making them more environment friendly, alongside a ‘decarbonisation’ programme which will bring the centre into line with other public buildings.
But when they met this week, members of the full council were divided over some of the new amenities, including ‘village style’ changing rooms which will feature a shared, unisex changing area with individual cubicles.
They were told the facilities would be better for families and users with additional needs.
Cllr Jackie Hook (Lib Dem, Bushell) said projects across the district had so far cut gas consumption in public buildings by 76 per cent, and Broadmeadow was the council’s largest remaining user of natural gas.
The refurbishment would cut the district’s carbon dioxide emissions by 46 tonnes a year, the equivalent of taking 26 cars off the road.
And, she warned, deadlines attached to a £300,000 government grant towards the project meant a decision was urgent.
The centre will get a new frontage and reception area, studio spaces, changing facilities and a bigger gym.
Council leader Martin Wrigley (Lib Dem, Dawlish NE) said the project needed to go ahead ‘at full speed’, but Cllr Paul Parker (South Devon Alliance, Ambrook) argued: 'We shouldn’t be spending money on a clapped-out old building. There is land available between Teignmouth and Dawlish. We should shelve this and build a new facility there.'
Cllr Andrew Macgregor (South Devon Alliance Independent, Bishopsteignton) said the £300,000 grant was not crucial, and councillors should not be forced into hasty decisions.
His bid to defer a decision for more information was seconded by Conservative group leader Cllr Phil Bullivant (Bradley) who said it was ‘ a splurge of ill-considered expenditure wrapped up in a cloak of refurbishing this important facility’.
And, he added: “This does nothing to deliver the type of customer experience this investment should deliver. This project fails in so many areas.
'We have a history of missed opportunities, procrastination and indecision, and it is laid bare in this proposal.”
But Cllr Andrew Swain (Lib Dem, Teign Valley) urged councillors not to risk losing the grant by deferring their decision, while Teignbridge’s head of corporate services Martin Flitcroft said economies of scale meant it made sense to revamp the centre at the same time as cutting the carbon used by its heating systems.
Cllr Hook added: 'If we reject this we end up with a sports centre with high maintenance issues. Membership will fall off and it will die.'
Cllr MacGregor’s amendment was defeated and the proposal to go ahead with the scheme was passed by 25 votes to 14.