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National Outdoor Pursuits Academy and Sports Facilities for Castlebar

Posted by Cllr. Therese Ruane on January 14, 2013 at 16:24:18:

I've been contacted by people who have indicated their disappointment that a 25 m pool rather than a 50 metre pool is part of the development of a National Outdoor Pursuits Academy and sports facilities in the town of Castlebar. I want to clear up any misinformation or speculation about the reason why I voted to proceed with the current plan for this development.

As a PE teacher and sportsperson, someone who has worked in swimming pools and is passionate about swimming, I would love to see a 50 metre pool in Castlebar.

However, there are two major additional costs we as a Council have to be concerned about:

Firstly, to build a 50 metre pool rather than a 25 metre pool, there is an additional capital cost of two million euro. This money would have to be borrowed and would incur an estimated annual interest payment of 100,000 euro.

Secondly, the annual running costs of a 50 metre pool are an additional 300,000 per year to that of a 25 m pool. So, in total, Castlebar Town Council would be left with an annual bill of 400,000 euro. There is no money from central government to pay these costs. The figures just don't add up.

Cities as large as Cork and Belfast have decided that they could not justify, nor afford, a 50 metre pool back in the so-called Celtic Tiger years, never mind these much tighter times.

The only way that we, as a Town Council, could service this bill is to increase the annual rate for businesses by 10 %. There are small businesses in this town hanging on by their skin of their teeth. Many are losing money and are facing closure. I know that some of the major chain stores here in Castlebar are considering closing their branches here in Castlebar. I have given a commitment to protect jobs in Castlebar and to businesses in the town. I refuse to serve a 10 % increase in commercial rates on businesses here in Castlebar. This would have a devastating effect on small businesses and a sharp increase in rates would convince many head offices of the chains stores to close their branches in Castlebar.

Over the past number of years, I have been contacted by many people in tears as they see their businesses losing money and facing closure. In good conscience, as a Town Councillor, I have a duty and responsibility to protect jobs and businesses in Castlebar during this economic crisis. I refuse to vote for a project that would mean an increase of 10 % in rates for businesses in the town and consequent jobs losses.

Those who propose taking on such a debt, and asking the ratepayers to shoulder such a burden, are neither living in the real world, nor responsibly representing the citizens of Castlebar.


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