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PRSA umbilical cord to be cut?

Proposed energy efficiency measures will save the cash needed to prepare the Princess Royal Sports Arena for a self-supporting status in the future.

The proposals will prepare for the council umbilical cord to be cut allowing the facility to operate without future cost to the council.

Council financial support for the PRSA has been reducing over the past few years, and the aim is for it to run without ongoing revenue support from the authority.

To enable it to go forward as a successful facility some investment is now needed. Potential energy efficiency measures could save more than £1.5 million, more than covering the £840,000 needed for repairs and commercial investment over the period of a ten-year lease.

The council's environment and performance committee is to be asked to consider at its meeting on Wednesday, January 28, making the money available from the council's capital reserve.

The committee will also be asked to consider making up to £560,000 available from the capital reserve to fund the energy efficiency measures at the PRSA and the Geoff Moulder Leisure Complex.

Energy savings will go back to the capital reserve so that the projects are cost neutral to the council taxpayer.

This will assist the primary focus of putting in place a long-term full repairing and insuring lease.

Council leader, Cllr Peter Bedford, said: "This points the way to a successful future for the PRSA at minimal cost to the council taxpayer. It will ensure the centre's future. It has an important role to play in tackling health inequalities for the residents of the borough. It is a well-used facility."

In 2013/14 it attracted 1,270 gym members and 15,000 swim visits. These figures are expected to rise in both areas in 2014/15.

A report to the committee demonstrates that a similar arrangement with the Peter Paine Sports Centre has been a success. It required significant investment, beyond the resource of the council. In 2011 it was taken on by Boston College, with access to funding beyond the reach of the council.

It has undergone a major transformation thanks to investment via the college since 2011/12 up to and including 2014/15 of more than £2 million. User numbers have mushroomed since 2012/13 from 21,000 to 26,000 in 2013/14 and an estimated 30,000 for 2014/15.

A partnership between the council and the Witham Academies Federation and the Boston Amateur Swimming Club has seen similar improvements in the fortunes of the Geoff Moulder Leisure Complex. As a result the training pool was reopened and use of the pools and gym have grown significantly year on year.