A £12.7 million scheme to build a multi-storey car park and library at Cambrian Place presents an opportunity to begin the long-awaited and much-needed regeneration of Lower Douglas.
That the view of Douglas Council leader David Christian as he outlined what he called a ‘balanced, responsive and realistic’ budget.
He told a special meeting of authority that substantial savings of £371,330 had made to keep the rate increase down to a below inflation 2.1 per cent - despite a 64 per cent increase in waste disposal costs due to the phased loss of the government subsidy.
But Councillor Christian insisted that this was no standstill budget and central to it was a commitment to £24.34 million of capital schemes including the Cambrian Place scheme which he said brought with it the guarantee of longer-term building work.
The scheme is currently being considered by the Council of Ministers and a decision is expected shortly.
Mr Christian said: ‘From the council’s perspective, once all approvals are in place, we are ready to purchase the site.
‘This project is so much more than just replacing a library and building a car park. It’s about providing the infrastructure and setting the tone for other developments in the area to followed, to boost enterprise and investment and edge towards a Douglas fit for the 21st century.’
The council leader said the project will not place any additional burden on the rates for the forthcoming year as the development loan costs are being funded entirely from reserves.
Councillor Chris Thomas suggested the project would be a distraction from the main task of the council. ‘We have to go back to basics,’ he said.
But Mr Christian insisted: ‘I don’t see Cambrian Place as a distraction whatsoever.’
He said he didn’t think the authority had an option of withdrawing from the scheme. ‘If we broke the contract we would leave ratepayers opens to substantial claims.’