Allerdale council has reported an “underspend” of £5m after putting Workington’s controversial multi-million-pound stadium plans on ice.

Leading councillors had agreed to look into developing a smaller-scale venue in place of the more ambitious plans put forward by the previous Labour administration, although nothing concrete has been agreed.

And Independent council leader Marion Fitzgerald this week sought assurance from officers that this cash could potentially be freed up for other projects.

Speaking at a meeting of the executive on Wednesday she said: “What exactly can we use this for?”

Officers confirmed it was possible to reallocate the money for different projects as part of a revised budget agreed by the full council.

The executive has inherited budget approval for £5m worth of borrowing in this financial year and a further £20m in the next financial year, money originally intended for the stadium.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Newcastle’s Kingston Park will replace Workington as the venue for three men’s games at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.

Workington had been chosen in January as one of 21 host venues for the sporting event but this was dependent on the completion of a new 8,000-capacity stadium. But following the elections in May, the new executive voted against the plans to develop the project amid concerns over the financial risks involved, effectively ending the county’s world cup dreams.

The sporting venue would have been shared by two of the town’s major sporting clubs, Workington Town and Workington Reds, both of which are in need of new facilities.

Following the meeting, Mrs Fitzgerald said the council remained “committed” to providing first-class sporting facilities in Workington which will be used by the clubs and the wider community.

“But we also have an eye on providing great sporting facilities across the borough for the whole community,” she added.