Pendle Conservatives have reacted with outrage at Pendle Council’s plan to borrow £2.2m to purchase part of the ACE Centre in Nelson.
The Conservatives claim the council already own the building through PEARL, its joint venture with Barnfield Investment Properties.
However, the council has stressed that it does not own the building and instead has two leases for the ground floor and first floor and the bistro which it wants to buy in order to save money in the long term.
The 2nd and 3rd floors, known as the Enterprise Centre, would remain under the ownership of PEARL.
The ACE Centre in Cross Street is run on behalf of Pendle Council by Pendle Leisure Trust and opened in 2009 at a cost of £6.5m.
The proposal to buy part of it will be discussed at Thursday’s meeting of Pendle Council’s Executive, made up of Labour and Lib Dem councillors. A final decision will be made by full council in September.
Leader of the Conservative Group on Pendle Council, Coun. Joe Cooney, said: “Only Pendle Council would propose to borrow over £2m to buy a building they already own, its utter madness and its just another example of the current administration’s approach to Pendle.
“Rather than trying to encourage economic growth to create jobs and opportunities for its residents here it is instead borrow money to buy a building it already owns. My group certainly won’t be supporting this proposal when it comes before full council in September.”
Philip Mousdale, Corporate Director at Pendle Council, said: “While the council has an interest in PEARL, it is a company and a separate organisation.
“The council itself has two 25 year leases. One for the ground floor and first floor and one for the bistro.
“Borrowing the money and paying it back at the current very low interest rates, instead of the rent commitment under the two leases, presents us with the opportunity to save more than £145,000 in the first year and almost over £100,000 each year afterwards.
“This would be a significant step towards the £4.8m we need to save over the next three years.”