GREENHAM Parish Council could be in a race against time to secure funding to complete the troubled Control Tower project – with councillors still in the process of completing a loan application.
The council has estimated the remaining works will cost around £100,000 and are hoping to secure the money through a Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) loan.
However, following a review into how a £420,000 government grant was spent on the project, the council has been ordered by grant provider Social Investment Business (SIB) to supply it with a “clear and realistic plan” of how the remainder of the project will be financed before June 13.
If this is not provided (along with other information on the management of the project) before the deadline, there remains the possibility that all or some of the £420,000 funding could be clawed back by SIB.
Work on the conversion of the former Cold War control tower into a visitor centre stalled last year when existing funds, including the £420,000 grant, were depleted owing to unforeseen costs and delays.
A previous application for a PWLB loan was turned down in July 2016, after the parish council submitted an incomplete form – adding to the delays.
However, reassuring councillors at last Wednesday’s full council meeting, Control Tower chairman Jon Gage – who joined the council in September 2016 – said: “This time we will follow instructions so the loan can be considered properly.”
The council has also set aside £40,000 from its reserves and £20,000 from the 2017/18 budget in order that work can be restarted as soon as possible.
Following the meeting, Greenham Parish Council chairman Julian Swift-Hook said: “As was made clear in the meeting last week, the council is in the process of preparing an application for submission to the PWLB, including a detailed and costed schedule of the works needed to complete the project, a comprehensive business plan and a detailed funding and cash flow statement.
“In addition, the council’s tender for a professional project manager is currently live on the Government’s Contracts Finder website.
“All of this is required in order to submit the PWLB loan application, and the same information has, quite reasonably, been requested by SIB, so I fully expect that the council will be able to respond positively and comprehensively to SIB’s request for information before June 13.”