Labour puts 'world class' velodrome for Derby back on track
THE Labour-led city council is pressing ahead with plans for a £22 million sports arena in Derby which it believes will provide the city with the "first class" venue it needs.
There were fears Labour would pull the plug on the Pride Park development when it took control of the council in May.
The previous Conservative-led council had not signed a deal with a chosen builder.
And when Labour gained power, it feared that the scheme as it stood could leave the council open to additional costs.
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That sparked fears among cycling groups and sports enthusiasts that the arena, which is to have a velodrome at its core, may not go ahead.
But now the scheme looks back on track after Labour said it would decide in two weeks' time on which should be the company to build the arena.
Councillor Martin Repton, the cabinet member responsible for leisure and culture, said: "With the Olympic Torch Relay coming to Derby and the eyes of the world firmly fixed on our city with regard to sport and physical exercise, I am delighted that the council cabinet is to consider the report recommending progress to the next stage of this important Olympic legacy project."
And he added it showed Labour's commitment to providing first-class sporting facilities throughout the city.
The deal over the arena was due to be signed before May's elections but it was left until the eleventh hour and was not completed in time by the outgoing Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition administration.
When Labour gained power, leader Councillor Paul Bayliss said the contract tenders needed much more consideration before a decision could be made over to whom it should be awarded or if it should progress at all.
Labour said it was because of concerns over who would be liable for any unforeseen costs when groundwork began.
Now, when a recommendation is agreed on an approved bidder on July 11, it will be with a caveat.
That will state that the construction can only progress if the foundation design for the arena is approved by the Environment Agency and that this can be done within the agreed budget.
It is understood that element has been the main area of concern for the council and the stumbling block which has held up the contract award process.
Five companies have been shortlisted for the building contract. They are Bam, based in Solihull, Derby's Bowmer and Kirkland, Galliford Try from Leicestershire, Interserve from Birmingham and Morgan Sindall from Solihull. Details of the preferred bidder will not be released until the company is selected because of confidentiality issues.
The previous administration had always stated it wanted work on the building of the arena to coincide with the start of the Olympics to show the residents of Derby that they would be getting top-class facilities like those they will see in London during the games.
Once work begins on the construction, it is expected to take 18 months to complete.
Cycling groups have been among the biggest supporters of the arena as they said they currently have to travel to Manchester to the nearest velodrome.
When doubt was first cast over the arena, they staged a demonstration in the Market Place.
The arena is one part of the city council's overall sporting strategy. The other half will see an Olympic-sized swimming pool created at the Riverlights complex.
The venues are needed to replace the city's existing ageing Moorways Sports Centre and Queen's Leisure Centre.