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Government pulls out of Sandys 360 deal

The Sandys 360 sports centre, just ahead of its opening (File photograph)

Government has abandoned plans to purchase the failed Sandys 360 sports centre, the House of Assembly heard yesterday morning.

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, said the purchase had been complicated by outstanding debt.

Colonel Burch added that since the purchase was approved by the House of Assembly in March 2018, the economic situation had changed.

He said: “Since March 2018, the Government has worked tirelessly to advance the sale, but the Trustees’ lawyers and HSBC have not been able to agree on the final dollar amount since there was an outstanding debt with a contractor – BC&M McAlpine – that had not been satisfied.

“This outstanding matter continuously delayed the advancement of the sale and given the current economic climate, it has been determined that it is in the best interests of the Government to rescind the purchase approval.”

Asked what Government would do to protect its investment in the facility, Colonel Burch said: “The building is not owned by us.

“I expect that there will be some discussions going forward based on this decision so we will protect the Government’s interests as best we can.”

He told the House the structure was in “full disrepair” and would need significant work to bring it back into a working state.

But Colonel Burch added that “the fat lady had not yet sung” on the matter and that the Government was still at the table for discussions.

The Sandys 360 Sports, Aquatic and Enrichment Centre opened in September 2009 but closed in November 2013 because it was unable to make ends meet.

A KPMG report into the failed centre revealed that almost $6 million of public money was ploughed into it before April 2014.

Parliament approved a plan in March 2018 for taxpayers to bail out the trustees by buying the centre and surrounding land with another $1 million of public money.

But it was reported in July 2019 that negotiations with HSBC, the mortgage lender, had stalled “as a result of a third party laying a claim to some indebtedness from the trustees of Sandys 360”.

Colonel Burch said last year that the purchase was further complicated by legal advice received by the Government, which suggested the sports centre's Board of Governors would have a say in the future of the site even after a sale.

He added: “If that is the case, and I will put you on notice, we ain't buying it.”

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Published June 05, 2021 at 9:59 am (Updated June 05, 2021 at 9:59 am)

Government pulls out of Sandys 360 deal

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