A COUNCIL still does not know when it might start building a £18.8m leisure centre, months after the project was ‘temporarily paused’.

Last October, it was revealed Vale of White Horse District Council had halted progress on the new leisure centre for Wantage and Grove.

But the authority is still waiting on further financial information. That might not be delivered until the end of the year, mirroring problems shared by other authorities across the country.

The council said it was hopeful the facility might open next year in Mably Way, Grove, despite the delay.

Council bosses said they needed information from the Government in its Spending Review to decide whether to proceed with the project.

But that might not take place until September – or even later than that.

Experts have said the decisions are critical and that ‘money local government has to maintain the vital services our communities rely on is running out fast’.

In the autumn, the council worried it would lose money by possible changes to the Government’s New Homes Bonus scheme.

That was introduced by the coalition government of 2010-15 so authorities would be rewarded for building new houses.

A Treasury spokesman said the department was unable to say when the Spending Review might take place – and that it could be as late as November.

But the non-party political think tank, the Institute for Government, said in a report released last year: “The Spending Review will be make or break for vital local government services.”

Lucy Billen, Vale of White Horse District Council spokeswoman, said: “In October we took the precautionary measure of pausing the project to ensure the council’s long-term finances are not affected by possible changes to the Government’s New Homes Bonus scheme.

“The Government has announced a one-year financial settlement for local authorities that explains the New Homes Bonus scheme remains the same for the financial year 2019/20, but there will be a spending review in 2019 to set out the Government's plans for future funding.

“As a prudent measure, this project remains paused until the Government has announced the conclusions of its Spending Review.”

A leaked email showed the leisure centre project was being stopped last September.

In it, the council's leisure projects officer Ben Border said: “We’ve taken a decision to temporarily pause our work on the new leisure centre for Wantage and Grove.”

He added: “The decision to pause this and other projects at the district council is a purely precautionary measure - one of the council’s key funding streams for projects like this is currently under review by the government.”

Vale council currently owns three leisure centres, including one in Wantage, and the Abbey Meadows outdoor swimming pool in Abingdon.

The other leisure centres are in Faringdon and at the White Horse Leisure and Tennis Centre in Abingdon. They are all run by GLL.