The Stadium – A £10 Million Punt or Investment?
The Stadium for Cornwall has and still is having a troubled time in getting off the drawing-board. I feel a lot of the problems have been with Cornwall Council’s overt secrecy, and mixed messages. This has left many Councillors suspecting something is not quiet right, with more going on than Councillor’s are being told. One of these concerns is the use of public money.
Let’s start off with saying the use of public money in building a stadium or the surrounding infrastructure is nothing new. I don’t think there is a stadium in the UK that has not had some sort of public funding in its construction, or running costs. So Cornwall Council will not be doing anything new if it does agree to part fund this stadium.
However, it is one hell of a coincidence that a letter is received from the group behind the stadium project asking for £10m after outline planning permission has been given for the stadium and Langarth Farm. You can’t help thinking this letter has been timed to be sent after these planning applications have been given permission.
This £10m request for funding from Cornwall Council will finally be discussed by the entire council on Tuesday 15th. The group behind this project have said they have ‘identified’ the other £10m needed to make this stadium a reality. In a report published on Friday afternoon, three options are on the table (more could come forward during the debate). These are:
- That the Cabinet be invited to consider whether it would be appropriate for the Council to take the lead in delivering a stadium for Cornwall which promotes community use and economic benefit for the people of Cornwall
- Pursuant to recommendation 1, that as part of the Cabinet’s consideration of any scheme for a stadium for Cornwall that a business case be produced including the identification of potential funding and proposals for the re-prioritisation of the existing capital programme of up to £10m and that no one-off or ongoing revenue support from the Council will be required for the Stadium.
- That the Cabinet request the Environment & Economy and Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committees to ensure that the proposals for any scheme for a stadium for Cornwall are fully scrutinised before making any recommendation to Cabinet for a final decision.
I can say there is considerable resistance to any public funds being used within the elected members. Lots of this has been well publicised in the media. Knowing what has been said before, I feel this request for £10m has a very slim chance of getting the backing of the full council. From my understanding, if the full council say’s no, it does not mean the council cannot fund this £10m. As the Cabinet of the council could under its own authority authorise this money. However, it would be extremely difficult for the Cabinet to go against the wishes of the entire council.
With a yes vote, and then Cabinet authorising the money a lot of work will have to be carried out before any money is handed over. The most important one is where will this money come from? Basically there are two options; using existing capital or borrowing the money.
If the council used existing capital this means the council will have to re-jig its current plans for capital investment. This could mean other projects missing out, or delayed. I know in my own Division the Boating Lake is desperate for major investment for repairs and maintenance. Initial estimates for this work could be ask much as £500k. So if the simple choice was Stadium or Boating Lake, then the answer would be Boating Lake.
The other option is for the council to borrow the money. The council could get a decent rate of borrowing because of its Triple A financial rating. The problem with borrowing this money is the cost of paying it back. It has been estimated that the annual cost of servicing this loan would be £800k per year.
More questions will have to be answered on who will actually owns the site and buildings, and what would happen if it all went horribly wrong. If it did go wrong, what liabilities would the council face? I have seen no details on these.
The report for the meeting can be found HERE and the full meeting will be webcast.