County council answers questions around loans to cricket club

Darlington and Stockton Times: County Hall, Durham County Hall, Durham

THE Northern Echo asked Durham County Council a series of questions about its financial backing and relationship with Durham County Cricket Club.

Q: What loans has the council advanced to the cricket club since becoming a unitary authority in 2009?

A: £3.1m to date. In 2011 we also gave the club a grant of £500,000 as a contribution to the latest phase of their ground development. This included an extension to the main pavilion building with additional covered spectator seating and an upgrade to the electricity supply.

Q: What process is undergone before the council decides to provide such support to what is essentially a privately run business? Is there any monitoring of how the money is subsequently spent and would it not make sense to have a council representative on the board?

A: The latest loan in 2013 was only authorised after a full evaluation of the potential economic impact on Durham and the North-East if we didn't provide the club with financial support. A full due diligence process was gone through and a final decision taken by the council's cabinet. The council does have an 'observer' who attends all the board meetings.

Q: Has any of this money been paid back to date? Also why was the holding company granted a 12 month repayment 'holiday' with the latest loan?

A: The 2013 loan has been released in installments and repayments are not due to be received until July 2014. The 12 month holiday was put in place to enable the cricket club to consolidate its financial position in line with its business plan. Previous loans to the cricket club were advanced in 2009 and 2011 and repayments are being received in line with their repayment schedule.

Q: Is it really a sensible use of taxpayers' money to support the club financially given the pressure on the council to make budget cuts?

A: The loans to the cricket club are part of the council's Capital Programme and are not impacting upon the council's Revenue Account pressures.

Q: What discussions are taken place between the council and club over plans to further develop the Emirates and the land surrounding it? What valuation has been placed on the land?

A: The redevelopment of the ground includes a number of opportunities, but until the cricket club have finalised their proposals it would not be appropriate for the council as the local planning authority to disclose any of the issues discussed. In terms of the valuation of the land outside of the ground, there has not been a valuation that looks at any one part of the ground. Figures were submitted [by the club] in respect of a funding application and are part of an overall business case, which is commercially sensitive.

Q: The council has a corporate hospitality box as a result of its relationship with the cricket club. Is this really necessary and should the authority not be trimming costs such as these, as many other councils have done?

A: The hospitality box was originally owned by Chester-le-Street District Council and was passed to the county council in 2009. There is no annual charge for it. There are a range of circumstances when the chairman, vice-chairman, leader, cabinet portfolio holders and/or senior members of the council may invite guests to attend an event. This is primarily to thank individuals and organisations for their contribution to the community and economy of County Durham and to promote and showcase the county to business and investors.

Comments (6)

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7:38am Mon 10 Mar 14

DP20 says...

Once again DBC wasting money on things that don't benefit the whole town just a minority, the close the arts centre, reduce the essential Street Scene staff wages by 2k each and the waste money on this crap, its a private company let them fund themselves, Bill seriously you and the other senior idiots need to start working for the benefit of the ppl of this town. Not you pet whims and projects for you and your friends, I think its time we got these ppl out, had one chief not the amount they have now and start spending money on the town to benefit the town, shops are shutting and trade is moving elsewhere, they are killing this town slowly, look at Stockton its dead fgs, rant over :-(
Once again DBC wasting money on things that don't benefit the whole town just a minority, the close the arts centre, reduce the essential Street Scene staff wages by 2k each and the waste money on this crap, its a private company let them fund themselves, Bill seriously you and the other senior idiots need to start working for the benefit of the ppl of this town. Not you pet whims and projects for you and your friends, I think its time we got these ppl out, had one chief not the amount they have now and start spending money on the town to benefit the town, shops are shutting and trade is moving elsewhere, they are killing this town slowly, look at Stockton its dead fgs, rant over :-( DP20
  • Score: -4

8:14am Mon 10 Mar 14

Barry Darlo says...

DP20 wrote:
Once again DBC wasting money on things that don't benefit the whole town just a minority, the close the arts centre, reduce the essential Street Scene staff wages by 2k each and the waste money on this crap, its a private company let them fund themselves, Bill seriously you and the other senior idiots need to start working for the benefit of the ppl of this town. Not you pet whims and projects for you and your friends, I think its time we got these ppl out, had one chief not the amount they have now and start spending money on the town to benefit the town, shops are shutting and trade is moving elsewhere, they are killing this town slowly, look at Stockton its dead fgs, rant over :-(
Does it not say Durham County Council? Where does it mention DBC?
[quote][p][bold]DP20[/bold] wrote: Once again DBC wasting money on things that don't benefit the whole town just a minority, the close the arts centre, reduce the essential Street Scene staff wages by 2k each and the waste money on this crap, its a private company let them fund themselves, Bill seriously you and the other senior idiots need to start working for the benefit of the ppl of this town. Not you pet whims and projects for you and your friends, I think its time we got these ppl out, had one chief not the amount they have now and start spending money on the town to benefit the town, shops are shutting and trade is moving elsewhere, they are killing this town slowly, look at Stockton its dead fgs, rant over :-([/p][/quote]Does it not say Durham County Council? Where does it mention DBC? Barry Darlo
  • Score: 3

11:00am Mon 10 Mar 14

westoelad says...

There will be far more people use the cricket ground than use the Art centre.
High profile cricket games.e.g. Ashes test matches bring millions £ in revenue to the town whilst the televising of events raises the profile of the area to a world wide audience.
There will be far more people use the cricket ground than use the Art centre. High profile cricket games.e.g. Ashes test matches bring millions £ in revenue to the town whilst the televising of events raises the profile of the area to a world wide audience. westoelad
  • Score: 2

11:22am Mon 10 Mar 14

Barry Darlo says...

Whats this go to do with DBC? (the above comments)
Whats this go to do with DBC? (the above comments) Barry Darlo
  • Score: 4

2:22pm Mon 10 Mar 14

GeordieB says...

I assume the Cricket Club isn't a social enterprise? Therefore there is absolutely no need for council-taxpayer's money being spent on this vanity project. The fact the claim is made that this is capital expenditure and not revenue expenditure is merely an accounting 'nicety'. It is still public money propping up a private enterprise.

If the club isn't commercially viable, then why is it there? Have directors' bonus payments been made by the club? If there are shareholders, what dividends have been paid by the club?

As for the Corporate Box, when do members of the public get to use that? Who has used the corporate box? Who took guests? What 'refreshments' were provided as part of the box package and to whom?

There are so many more questions that need to be answered. I hope the Northern Echo don't leave it at this article and keep on digging.
I assume the Cricket Club isn't a social enterprise? Therefore there is absolutely no need for council-taxpayer's money being spent on this vanity project. The fact the claim is made that this is capital expenditure and not revenue expenditure is merely an accounting 'nicety'. It is still public money propping up a private enterprise. If the club isn't commercially viable, then why is it there? Have directors' bonus payments been made by the club? If there are shareholders, what dividends have been paid by the club? As for the Corporate Box, when do members of the public get to use that? Who has used the corporate box? Who took guests? What 'refreshments' were provided as part of the box package and to whom? There are so many more questions that need to be answered. I hope the Northern Echo don't leave it at this article and keep on digging. GeordieB
  • Score: 3

5:56pm Mon 10 Mar 14

st-george1 says...

Lessons still not being learned by Labour people ...
Redcar & Cleveland Council is still OWED £30 MILLION of over-the-top business rates or LOANS as some will call it by SSI steelworks we are told and YET council taxes are being pushed up 2% … now that’s exceptionally bad management !
It’s mind-boggling that such financial skulduggery between this Council and the non-profit making debt-ridden steelworks has been allowed to continue, despite telling the world that SSI are breaking all production records BUT making absolutely NO OPERATING PROFIT, at huge expense to the genuine taxpayers … and now Durham County Council appear to be pursuing this route, secretly using £‘MILLIONS of taxpayers money to enable the debt-ridden Durham Cricket Club to survive year after year even in today’s austerity climate, all in defiance I would bet, of the majority of the people of County Durham.
It’s really NOT an ethical or constitutional thing to do with taxpayers money, it is immoral, it looks dishonest, fraudulent and maybe criminal and shows the arrogance of some of the public sector people who delight in using taxpayers money as though it was their own !
Lessons still not being learned by Labour people ... Redcar & Cleveland Council is still OWED £30 MILLION of over-the-top business rates or LOANS as some will call it by SSI steelworks we are told and YET council taxes are being pushed up 2% … now that’s exceptionally bad management ! It’s mind-boggling that such financial skulduggery between this Council and the non-profit making debt-ridden steelworks has been allowed to continue, despite telling the world that SSI are breaking all production records BUT making absolutely NO OPERATING PROFIT, at huge expense to the genuine taxpayers … and now Durham County Council appear to be pursuing this route, secretly using £‘MILLIONS of taxpayers money to enable the debt-ridden Durham Cricket Club to survive year after year even in today’s austerity climate, all in defiance I would bet, of the majority of the people of County Durham. It’s really NOT an ethical or constitutional thing to do with taxpayers money, it is immoral, it looks dishonest, fraudulent and maybe criminal and shows the arrogance of some of the public sector people who delight in using taxpayers money as though it was their own ! st-george1
  • Score: 4

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