Spa budget shortfall in council spotlight

Scarborough Spa complex. 113873

Scarborough Spa complex. 113873

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BUDGETS of the Scarborough Spa and the Whitby Pavilion will be closely monitored by councillors following news that the venues need up to £500,000 to plug a budget deficit.

The matter was discussed by members of Scarborough Council’s Audit Committee following claims by Cabinet members that losses at the Spa were holding back the more profitable Whitby Pavilion.

Scarborough Spa complex could be up for grabs with a host of companies expected to put in bids to run the complex. Picture by Dave Kettlewell. 113873'23/09/11

Scarborough Spa complex could be up for grabs with a host of companies expected to put in bids to run the complex. Picture by Dave Kettlewell. 113873'23/09/11

Brian Bennett, the council’s head of tourism, said that delays to the £6.5 million refurbishment at the Spa had led to a loss in revenue. He said: “It was anticipated that it would be back in use by December 2010 – in time for the Christmas festivities – but the building work didn’t finish until July.”

The official re-opening for the Spa took place in May, with a performance by the Bolshoi Orchestra, but the contractors continued with the finishing touches to the project for a further two months. Mr Bennett said: “That’s had an impact on the budget and we also lost business.”

He added that the budget had been “over-ambitious” and steps were being taken to reduce costs and increase income.

Bids from outside operators to run both venues are being invited and Mr Bennett said that the Long Bar was not fully refurbished because the successful bidder would probably want to carry out their own refit.

He said: “The Long Bar is considered as a potentially lucrative financial area for potential bidders. There was a basic kit out to allow the bidders to look at the facility and come forward with their proposals.”

It is understood that a recommendation will be made by the end of the year and, if the council does outsource the service, it could start before the next financial year.

The council is hopeful that an increase in the number of conference bookings could also help reduce the deficit.

Cllr David Billing said he appreciated the reasons for the shortfall. He added: “Events can be successful one year and not the next. I just wonder how the Jazz Festival went this year. Is business doing well at the moment?”

Mr Bennett said that the Jazz Festival had been quite successful but added: “It’s hard – we are in the midst of a recession. There’s no doubt about it that people are spending less.”