A POLITICAL row has broken out over whether a multi-million pound creative industries centre is value for money to the tax payer.

A liberal democrat councillor questioned the success of The Hub in Redcar after £4.5m was invested in the seafront property by Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council.

Councillor Ron Harrison told the council’s borough meeting that he believed that only 17 per cent of the units in the building were occupied.

The councillor asked the council’s cabinet member for economic development Councillor Mark Hannon to defend the expense of the centre.

He asked: “In light of the fact that in the region of £4.5m of RCBC Council Tax payers’ money was spent on The Hub in Redcar, will the Cabinet Member explain why he still believes that this represents value for money?”

However, the figures were disputed by Coun Hannon who maintains that the project is value for money.

He said: “The Palace HUB investment by the Council amounted to £1.9m which levered in a range of external grants to the value of £6m, thus giving the Council an asset worth at least £7.9m.

“This £1.9m Council investment has generated a return on investment of 416 per cent over a 14-month period – a fantastic return that just shouts 'value for money'.

“The Palace Hub was a joint project funded with over 75 per cent of the costs levered in from external grants. The centre is designed to enhance and develop the creative industries sector and encourage entrepreneurship within the Borough.

“The Hub opened to business 14 months ago and has surpassed occupancy targets for the new property. We have a state of the art facility which just last week was highly commended in the Royal Institute Chartered Surveyors commercial property awards for the North-East and forms part of the wider seafront development.”

He added: “It has been a success and they (Liberal democrats) can’t stand it. They only find fault so that they can be elected again. Every development we have brought forward has been mocked by yourselves and has been given no credit or credence.”