The fate of the multi-million-pound leisure centre project in Bury St Edmunds has been decided once and for all.

The decision to cancel the Western Way project was reached during yesterday’s West Suffolk full council meeting after a lengthy debate which included concerns from all parties.

Councillor Cliff Waterman, the leader of the council, said the decision to scrap the development of a new state-of-the-art leisure centre was the “least risky option”.

He added: “The project involved taking a loan over 40 years and a lot of assumptions which may or may not come to fruition.

“What we’re doing is securing leisure services for West Suffolk for the foreseeable future — this is good news.

“Perhaps the eye has been taken off the ball in terms of maintenance but we can bring it back to very good condition.”

The initial plans predicted an initial cost of £39.7m which would, over 40 years, reach a total of £58.2m. This is in comparison to the £62.8m in total costs accrued over the same time for minimum refurbishment.

Cllr Waterman and those who supported him felt the risk of borrowing during the current financial climate was too great to continue.

Instead, the now approved proposals are for essential maintenance to be carried out at the existing leisure centre which would extend its life by 10 years before further consideration must be paid.

The detailed breakdown of the essential maintenance works, and their costs, however,  is still being formulated by officers.

Cllr Andrew Smith, of Bardwell ward, along with the rest of the Conservative party, believe the decision is “too premature” despite the concerns raised over risks.

He said: “Throughout the years of nursing this project, the golden thread has always been to deliver a state-of-the-art leisure centre to our people — many of us here tonight shared and supported that vision.

“These risks, perceived or real, can be mitigated. What we need is further deliberation.”

Concerns were also raised about how much money could be lost on a long-term basis.

Cllr Joe Mason, of Haverhill North, said: “The leisure centre is going to have to come down and it’s going to cost mighty more money than it would cost now.

“Risk is always there — we should be fighting for all of West

During the meeting, councillors also had the chance to approve an amendment designed to create a time of deliberation.

The amendment, proposed by Cllr Jo Rayner, of Abbeygate ward, called for a detailed breakdown of the essential maintenance works, along with a business case for an alternative for the Olding Road site.

She said: “It is unclear what councillors are being asked to vote for and whether the spend would be value for money.

“It’s also unclear what the residents and users would expect given the various descriptions used for the works.”

Cllr Waterman refuted: “This decision has been taken with very great consideration.

“It doesn’t rule out doing other things, but my sense is that those other things will add something to West Suffolk rather than replace something we already got.”

With 32 votes against, and only 18 in favour, the amendment was refused.

The debate did not end there, however, and councillors continued to voice their views on the plans to scrap the development.

Cllr Susan Glossop, of Risby ward, said: “To patch and repair the current leisure centre and to somehow fund a new build in 10 years’ time, will all cost the council.

“The greatest cost is to our residents and the future generation. This decision will come back to haunt West Suffolk Council for years to come.”

Although several councillors who supported the scrapping of the project referred to the decision as being made ‘with a heavy heart’, they remained resolute.

Cllr Waterman continued: “The benefits for the project would have been marginal.

“This is a good news motion, it’s a motion that guarantees Bury St Edmunds residents will have a leisure centre.”