Argos demolition and student flats plan: fears of 'another Alpamare'

Alpamare water park in Scarborough
Alpamare water park in Scarborough

“It’s a great scheme but it’s a bad deal for the tax-payer."

That's the view of one of the three Scarborough borough councillors who voted against plans to demolish the Argos building in Newborough and build 200 student flats and a public square in the town centre.

Councillor Donohue-Moncrieff

Councillor Donohue-Moncrieff

Leaked documents have revealed that the council ouncil is looking to borrow £22 million for its plan - see HERE.

The plans were approved during an extraordinary meeting of the council on Friday last week. The former Argos building in Newborough will be purchased by the council, then demolished to create accommodation for university students and trainee nurses and doctors in partnership with the York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Independent councillor Michelle Donohue-Moncrieff was one of three councillors who voted against the scheme last Friday.

She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that while she supported the scheme she had concerns about the risk to the council, drawing similarities with the authority providing a £9m loan to fund a water park in the town that later got into financial difficulties [Alpamare].

The deal that kept Alpamare afloat - see HERE.

Cllr Donohue-Moncrieff also expressed concerns that the deal with Futurelets, the student accommodation provider for CU Scarborough, only lasts for 10 years, by which stage the council will have paid off £3.39m of the loan.

She said: “It’s a great scheme but it’s a bad deal for the tax-payer.

“We are putting £22m of debt onto the council but if everyone pulls out where does that leave us? The council is raising its debt limit and I worry that this is just the start, is it going to happen again to finance other schemes?

“There are things in the deal outside the council’s and the university’s control, what happens if there is a change to tuition fees, for example?

“My concern is that we are adopting the same approach as we did with the water park, when people raised concerns they were dismissed but now I think, with hindsight, many of those concerns have come to fruition.

“My worry is that CU Scarborough is a very good university but things may happen in the market that means it could not deliver its growth targets.

“Yes, we should be working with them but not to put our debt up by almost double. We are taking on the majority of the risk and that is not the job of the council.”

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