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PHOTOS: D-Day on a Stadium for Cornwall

Stadium for Cornwall 2

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 6:01am 17th April 2018. (Updated at 2:34pm 17th April 2018)

By Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter

Cornwall Council is meeting to decide whether to give £3million towards the Stadium for Cornwall.

The partners behind the stadium – Cornish Pirates, Truro City FC and Truro and Penwith College – approached the council in January to ask for £6m of public funding.

All 123 councillors from all over Cornwall will tomorrow decide whether the council should go ahead and grant the funding.

So, why has the stadium had to ask for public money?

It was originally envisaged that a retail park development on a site next to the site of the proposed stadium near Threemilestone would provide up to £10m of funding for the stadium.

However that development now looks dead in the water and so the partners went cap in hand to the council in January to ask for help.

The partners themselves have put in £2m each for what will be a £14m project.

They have asked for £6m but the council says they will only give £3m and there is another £2m unaccounted for?

Stadium for Cornwall 4

The council considered the request for £6m but officers and the Lib Dem/Independent Cabinet decided that it would be better to have a situation where the council provides half the funding and the other half comes from central Government.

That decision was based in part on a declaration from former Prime Minister David Cameron that the Government would provide help if funding was an issue for the Stadium for Cornwall.

The council has been clear that if councillors agree to provide the £3m tomorrow then that will be the end of its financial commitment and it will only be handed over if the Government follows with its own £3m.

Any funding from the council will also be dependent on a full business case being approved by its own chief financial officer and by an independent assessor.

As for the other £2m, the partners stated at a briefing to councillors last week that they would be looking to raise that in a crowdfunding campaign. However if that did not reach the target then the Pirates and Truro College have stated that they will make up the shortfall.

West Langarth  stadium for cornwall

OK, so if the council agrees to give £3m what happens next?

There has, as yet, been no indication from the Government that it will be providing any funding at all for the stadium. Those negotiations are being led by Cornwall Conservative MPs Sarah Newton and Derek Thomas and also have the support of the county’s four other Tory MPs.

It is believed that discussions are involving both the Treasury and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. If the council does approve the funding then it is expected those talks will intensify.

The stadium partners will also launch their crowdfunding exercise to raise the last £2m required.

As the project stands the funding will be for the first phase of the stadium which would see a 6,000-capacity stadium built, complete with a fitness centre, business and conference centre, kitchen training facilities and full facilities for matchdays.

The west stand, which is part of the first phase, would have 4,200 seats with the remainding capacity in standing areas around the 4G pitch.

The stadium partners have indicated that they want to start work ASAP with a view to having the stadium ready for the start of the 2019/20 season, so, ideally August 2019.

Stadium for Cornwall 3

Wait a minute, hasn’t the council said it is having to cut services? Have they found a magic money tree with this £3m hanging on it?

Yes and no. The council is having to make savings and cuts to some of its services which is due to a reduction in the amount of funding it is being given by the Government. That is impacting the frontline services provided by the council.

The money which could be used for the stadium would come from the council’s economic development match fund – this is completely separate money which can only be used for capital projects. It would be unlawful for the council to transfer this money from that fund and use it instead to fund services such as mending potholes or for adult social care.

The economic development match fund is used purely for projects which will bring a benefit to Cornwall and fit with the council’s economic development programme.

At the councillors’ briefing last week the council highlighted other projects which have been granted council funding in this way – these include the expansion of the Tate St Ives, the planned redevelopment of the Hall for Cornwall and the planned link road between St Austell and the A30.

All of those projects were approved and granted funding by the council.

West Langarth  stadium for cornwall

And who will own the stadium?

The Cornish Pirates will own the stadium with the other partners all having long-term leases which involve rent and service charges.

Pirates owner Dicky Evans has guaranteed that there will be £300,000 a year for the first 10 years to cover any additional running costs which are not met through the revenue and other income streams for the stadium.

If, for whatever reason, the stadium project completely failed and the Pirates went out of business then the council has included a clause in any funding commitment that it could take on the stadium as an asset.

However, as Cabinet member Bob Egerton pointed out to councillors at their briefing last week, the council does not want the responsibility of running a stadium.

This is why the council has been so keen to ensure that there is a robust business plan in place which will have been thoroughly scrutinised and approved before any funding is provided, should the council agree to fund the stadium tomorrow.

stadium for cornwall

But what happens if the council votes against providing the £3m?

Bob Egerton has been very clear about this; as far as he is concerned if the council does not provide the funding then the project will grind to a halt and will very likely not happen at all.

Cornwall Council will meet to decide whether to grant the funding for the Stadium for Cornwall at 10.30am on Tuesday.

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