Councillors in Leeds Arena pledge

Plans to build an £80m arena in Leeds remain firmly on track despite a major review of government spending, senior councillors have stressed.

Proposals for the 12,500-seater city centre arena – a key regeneration project – are at an advanced stage with an operator and contractor already appointed and outline planning consent granted.

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A spending review announced by the new Tory-Lib Dem coalition government sparked fears that the flagship project could be in jeopardy.

Whitehall is contributing 9.9m towards the scheme, a decision signed off by the previous government last December.

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While the spending review is centred on decisions taken by Labour ministers since January 1 this year, concerns grew after a Department for Business, Innovation and Skills spokesman, when asked if the Government remained committed to the arena, said: "I cannot give an answer either way."

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But today the council's Labour group, which now has 48 of the authority's 99 seats and has struck an agreement with the two Greens to take control from May 27, reaffirmed its commitment to the arena scheme.

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Coun Keith Wakefield, Labour group leader, left, said: "We are fully committed to the arena and have been for a very long time. It is something that the city very much needs. It is a piece of our cultural and regeneration jigsaw that has been missing for a very long time."

And Coun Andrew Carter, council leader, dismissed any fears surrounding the scheme's future. He said: "We have got the money and this (review) is about funding not committed. I am extremely confident where the arena is concerned.

"We were awarded 9.9m and 8.1m has already been handed over and there is a contractual obligation for the remaining balance to be provided."

Proposals for a new 245m trolleybus network in Leeds and plans for a long-awaited southern entrance to Leeds City railway station do form part of the review. They were given the green light just weeks before the election was called.

Coun Wakefield added it was crucial Leeds received Government support to improve its transport infrastructure. He said: "These schemes are absolutely vital to the city's economy, jobs growth and future prosperity. We cannot afford to miss out on these opportunities."

Paula Dillon, President of Leeds Chamber Commerce.

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