Thursday, 22 September 2011

Stadium for Cornwall faces another problem

It looks like the Stadium for Cornwall proposal is facing another headache - Truro City have been served with a winding up order by HM Revenue and Customs.

I've no idea what the winding up order is for - it might be a VAT issue or to do with PAYE. It might be for a large amount or it could be a stand off over a comparatively small sum. Whatever the case, it's a problem for the advocates of the stadium as TCFC were set to be one of the anchor tenants along with Cornish Pirates.

The planning application for the stadium and associated housing development has been submitted and will be considered by the Council in due course. The elephant in the room is how it will be paid for. Cornwall Council cabinet members have repeatedly said that there won't be taxpayer money going into the project and using s106 monies (ie planning gain) has also been declared illegal. However there was some confusion when the head of economic development said recently that council money might still be used. I checked with the Cabinet member responsible, Chris Ridgers who said:
I can assure you that as the Stadium for Cornwall proposal is still in the feasibility stage then no recommendations exist about funding or the sources of those funds. The output, with recommendation/s, from the feasibility study is scheduled to go to November’s Cabinet.
That appears to me to be a lot less certain than the comments made by his predecessor.

What is clear is that the issue of how a stadium might be financed needs to be decided out in the open before any ground starts to be broken. There have been offers made by the Pirates to cover the running costs as well as claims about the likely number of jobs created, but nothing yet about the actual building costs. If these are not clear from the outset the danger is that the people of Cornwall will end up paying for a white elephant for a very long time.

For the record: I've got no problem at all with the concept of a stadium. Subject to appropriate planning and highways policies being met, if a private developer wants to build it then I would welcome the development. However, with the acceptance by Cornwall Council that there will be little or no community use of the new facility, I see no reason why any further taxpayers' money should go into the project.

For lots of in depth analysis of the whole stadium saga, this is excellent.

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