MARK Jenkinson MP is joining forces with Conservative councillors to call on Workington Town Council to progress the purchase of The Ranch – securing it is a community asset in perpetuity.
The land at Moss Bay is being sold at below market value, with the proceeds going to charity, following his high-profile campaign to save the popular pitch for football kids.
But hundreds of children have been left in limbo as council taxpayers pay the price for what the MP described as “dither and delay” from the ruling Labour councillors.
Together with Conservative councillors Jacqueline Kirkbride, Deb Garton and Paul Larkin, Mark is again urging the Labour-led town council to stop dragging its heels – and to press on with the purchase.
Conservative councillor Jaqueline Kirkbride had a motion adopted by full council 23rd May to complete the purchase, with heads of terms agreed.
But the purchase appears to have stalled, with some Labour councillors seeking to blame the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) in December for the delays.
The MP became involved again, and it transpired that this was not the case.
That spurred WTC into action and the loan was swiftly deposited in the council coffers. Since then, however, the loan has sat untouched – though taxpayers are still liable for the repayments.
It is now over a year ago since heads of terms for the sale of the playing fields were agreed, a purchase that was initially expected to take around seven weeks.
Meanwhile, the council does not own the asset and is not generating any rental income to cover the interest or the capital repayments.
It is also understood that the budgeted legal fees have been considerably exceeded and are likely to be disproportionate to the cost of the purchase because the process has taken such a long time.
Mark said: “The Town Council is now in the ridiculous position of paying interest and capital repayments on a loan which it has drawn down to purchase an asset that it has not purchased.
“They may as well pile taxpayers’ hard-earned cash in the Duffield Beacon in Vulcan Park, and then burn it.
“It appears that a small number of Labour councillors are delaying the purchase.
“While they argue about saving their budgets for their jollies to France, inaction is costing money and putting future of Workington Reds Juniors Football Club at risk.
“Council-taxpayers should not have to pick up the tab because of this irresponsibility from Labour. At present, the council is servicing a loan without generating any income.
“I call on them to do what they agreed to do, or risk scuppering the future of this community asset.”