Council admits it got its Futurist sums wrong

The Futurist
The Futurist

A Scarborough resident has demanded an apology from the council after she revealed misleading figures from the authority over how much it had spent on the Futurist.

When the council voted in January to demolish the theatre, with just a single vote swaying the decision, Cllr Helen Mallory, the portfolio holder for finance, told councillors at the authority that more than £1.6 million had been spent on the building – a statement she now admits was wrong.

Cllr Mallory told the meeting the amount spent on the derelict building was £1.6 million PLUS the maintenance costs from the last 20 years.

Last month, following pressure from resident Ali Wilkins, she asmitted to the council the mistake – the figure was in fact £1.6 million inclusive – and said she would send a letter to Ms Wilkins.

At the meeting on May 8 she said: “Just to confirm to council Ms Wilkins has been sent a reply, but following advice from the legal team I apologise to councillors but it is not appropriate for me to comment on the contents of the letter at this time.” More than a month later and Ms Wilkins has not received any letter.

After sending a number of emails to the council she eventually got a reply from its Head of Legal, Lisa Dixon, stating: “At its meeting on 9 January 2017, the Portfolio holder informed councillors that in the preceding 20 years the council had paid £1.6 million in subsidies to the operators of the theatre, excluding maintenance costs which had also been paid by the council.

"To clarify, the figure quoted included not just monies paid to the operators of the theatre and some direct costs to the council such as insurance and business rates, but also some maintenance costs.

“For the record, the figure of £1.6 million represents the actual costs incurred by the council in relation to the theatre.”

Ms Wilkins told The Scarborough News: “I personally think that as members would expect financial accuracy from this portfolio holder in order to form decisions, an apology to members at the next full council meeting from Cllr Mallory would not go amiss.”

Cllr Mallory said the letter had been emailed to another councillor to pass on to Ms Wilkins.

Ms Wilkins said: “That’s not what she told the council.”