WORKINGTON’S MP has criticised the new leader of Allerdale council for her executive’s decision to halt plans for a community stadium in the town.

Sue Hayman MP has written to Councillor Marion Fitzgerald to question the decision to backtrack on the 8,000-capacity venue.

Mrs Hayman said: “A new development like this would not only have improved the much-needed facilities for both Workington Town, Workington AFC – the players and staff, their fans and visiting supporters - but would have also opened-up to non-traditional audiences such as girls, women and disabled users.”

The venue would have been funded thanks to an investor/developer model, meaning the council would not need to borrow money. Income would have been generated by tenants such as Sellafield, which wanted office space at the stadium, and the NHS. The council now wants to explore the possibility of a scaled-back facility.

Mrs Hayman told coun Fitzgerald: “I am somewhat concerned around certain comments I am hearing from the Independent/Tory elected members, which included yourself in a recent ITV Border interview, when stated that £95m will now be saved by not pursuing this route. Can you please explain this statement? If the original concept was that of an investor/developer route, how has the council potentially saved £95m? Does Plan B, which the new executive are now considering, mean the council will be going down the borrowing route, with potential implications on the council tax payer?

Can you also advise if the interest that was originally sought from Sellafield, the NHS and NHS Pharmacy is still being pursued? This would have consolidated GP services within Workington, allowing better access for patients with the potential of attracting much needed GPs to the area. The loss of a potential 400 jobs relocating into Workington, thus fortifying the town centre, is a real concern for many and the potential loss to the local economy this would have created is also devastating news for our area.”

Coun Fitzgerald said: “As a council we are committed to providing better sporting facilities right across the borough and as part of that we are continuing work on a new shared stadium for Workington. We agree that both Workington Reds and Town are in need of more modern facilities and want to work in partnership with them to provide something new for the clubs and the community. However, we have to balance that with the potential financial risk to the council and serving the needs of the whole borough. I want to reiterate that doing nothing is not an option.”