TAXPAYERS in Colchester are to be hit with an estimated £2 million bill to complete the town’s controversial new art gallery.

A £7.3 million shortfall in finishing the troubled Firstsite Newsite gallery has been identified, and Colchester Council deputy leader Martin Hunt said he believed the borough’s bill could more than double the £1.75 million already contributed by the council.

The overall cost of building the Visual Arts Facility (Vaf) is now estimated at £25.5 million – £9 million more than the original estimated cost.

Last year, a series of problems meant a further £1.75 million had to be added to the budget, paid for by partners Colchester Council, Essex County Council, the East of England Development Agency and the Arts Council of England.

As part of that agreement, Colchester Council agreed not to ask for any more funds, but Mr Hunt said discussions were under way with the partners to help fund the remaining shortfall.

Mr Hunt told the Gazette a request for further money would probably be made at next month’s cabinet meeting and then at full council the following week.

“I’m pretty sure the other funders will help us out,” he said.

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