A CONTROVERSIAL deal between Southend Council and the developer of a new £50million Seaway leisure complex has been extended by 14 months.

The council’s cabinet met on Thursday and agreed the deadline for the deal with developer Turnstone Leisure, signed for four years in December 2014, should be extended until next year.

The deal was thrown into jeopardy after Turnstone failed to meet a key deadline that required them to have been granted planning permission for Seaway car park by December last year.

While critics say that taxpayers will be getting a bad deal if Turnstone is allowed to go ahead with the development, cabinet members claim it will bring a range of benefits, including earning the council at least £599,245 per year.

Planning documents submitted by Turnstone propose an IMAX cinema, indoor golf, a climbing wall, a virtual reality zone and restaurants.

The council says this will create more than 500 jobs and generate an additional £12 to £15million of spending in the town each year.

Seafront traders claim the agreed rent for the site will see the developer paying £300,000 a year which is less than the annual income generated by the car park, which is £600,000.

At the cabinet meeting the council’s deputy leader, Tory James Courtenay, read a series of questions to clarify the concerns.

These included asking council officers if they are confident the deal is good for the borough and if the figures have been thoroughly checked - the answer to all of these questions was “yes”.

Speaking of the plan’s critics, he said: “Not only have we gone to Savills, a big international company.

“Not only has our financial officer signed this off, but we’ve also gone to the district valuer service who have looked at this and signed it off.

“These are competent bodies.

“I’ve had nobody contact me who is in a position to question those professionals.”

Council leader John Lamb added: “Some people have got so involved in this, they are mischief making for the sake of it.

“This is a substantial investment in our town and for our residents. It supports all the business that goes on here, not just for one section of the population.

“This also overcomes some of the allegations being made by people who ought to know better.

“This is a very good investment.”