The two highest political figures in the district are arguing over a controversial decision to withdraw plans for a 8,000-capacity stadium in Workington.

Sue Hayman, Labour MP for Workington, and Marion Fitzgerald, independent leader of Allerdale council, have been exchanging letters over Allerdale’s new executive’s move.

The previous Labour administration, which lost its majority at the May election, wanted to build a community stadium near the site of Borough Park to become a new home to Workington Reds and Workington Town.

The authority was successful in its bid to host games for the Rugby League World Cup in 2021. However the new independent/Tory-led council scrapped the plans and withdrew from the event.

The stadium was to include a health hub occupied by the NHS and Sellafield offices.

Coun Fitzgerald claims there was no evidence the two organisations were committed to the project, making it a financial risk, but Sue Hayman said that was not true.

She said: “I feel disappointed. I’ve had so many letters from people about this. They want something to be proud of and they feel really let down by the council.”

Mrs Hayman added she strongly believed a health hub is needed in the area and that she had met with both Sellafield and the NHS.

“I believed their commitment to be genuine. When I met with the NHS they asked me to send a letter of support for the project.”

Mrs Hayman said the council’s decision to scrap the plans were rushed and that councillors should have done more work to assess the feasibility of the project in the timescale given.

Coun Fitzgerald said: “Since the Executive meeting in June, the council has held positive discussions with both Workington Town and Workington AFC with a view to moving forward with plans for a Sports Village at the current Borough Park site.

“In regards to the previous plans for a new community stadium Executive members did a lot of work to familiarise ourselves with the proposal and considered them in great detail.

“With regards to the signing of leases and as per my response to Sue Hayman’s letter, we felt there was no evidence that any form (even draft) of lease was in existence at the time that the present Executive committee made its decision regarding the stadium.”

Sellafield Ltd confirmed it was exploring potential for employee accommodation schemes with interested community representatives as moving staff off the nuclear site would accelerate the decommissioning process.