Council leader Keith House has announced this evening that Eastleigh Borough Council has finally signed off the controversial Ageas (Rose) Bowl deal.
“We are now the proud owners of a stadium” he told a depleted cabinet meeting – witnessed by just one member of the public.
The £6 million pound purchase is part of a larger £48 million project to redevelop the former Rose Bowl – home to Hampshire county cricket club – with a 175 room 4 star hotel, spa and golf course ‘leisure complex’.
Cllr House revealed that Council Chief Bernie Topham had spent the day in London signing the paper work and hailed the deal – described by critics as a council tax payer funded bailout – as “a significant achievement”.
The former Rose Bowl company had run into financial difficulties which had threatened its future.
The ‘rescue’ purchase of the ground by the council took over six months to complete due to protracted negotiations with various creditors – the exact details of which remain secret having been discussed at a behind closed doors council meeting from which both press and public had been expelled.
Reacting to the news the club announced it is expecting work to start at the ground soon and hope to have all work completed in time for England’s next Test Match against India in 2014
Ageas Bowl Chairman, Rod Bransgrove said:
“We are absolutely delighted to have completed this this deal with Eastleigh Borough Council. Building this hotel and transforming The Ageas Bowl into a Model Test Match ground will have an overwhelmingly positive effect on the local economy through creating and protecting jobs as well as boosting tourism to the region”.
Council Leader Keith House said in a released statement:
“This is fantastic news. It’s a very important project for the whole Borough and I’m very pleased to see work will soon be starting.”
Although critics have warned that the increased borrowing would result in an unacceptable level of exposure for the council, the Leader went on to claim the project would result in LOWER council taxes for residents:
“As well as creating jobs for local people and opportunities for local business it gives the Council significant new rental income to help protect vital local services and keep council tax down.”
“We’re also committed to making sure that people across the Borough benefit from this partnership through the chance both to watch and take part in sport. The prestigious world class venue will also help to keep Eastleigh on the international sporting map.”
Photo: ©Graham Horn
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