Questions raised over £9 million waterpark loan

Scarborough Council has defended its deal with Benchmark over the Alpamare Waterpark.

The waterpark
The waterpark

Concerns were raised by Labour Cllr Tony Randerson over the nature of the £9 million loan to the company to facilitate the development,

Cllr Randerson was concerned that the council had not put a legal charge against the company, meaning if Benchmark was to go into insolvency then the authority would not be a priority creditor, meaning it could get little or no return back.

However, finance portfolio holder, Cllr Helen Mallory, told last week’s council meeting that it was not needed.

She said: “The facts of the matter are that the council is the freehold owner of the waterpark and adjoining car park.

“The council granted a 35-year lease of the waterpark and car park to Benchmark. By the terms of the lease, where there is an act of insolvency against Benchmark then the council is able to terminate the lease and take back possession of the waterpark and car park.”

She said it was for this reason no charge was needed.

Cllr Randerson also asked about “rumours” that only £100,000 of the loan had been repaid.

He said: “At this rate, it will take 85 years to get the money back.”

Cllr Mallory said the rent was “up-to-date” but refused to divulge the figure repaid.

She said the terms were “very different to those in Cllr Randerson’s question.”

Speaking afterwards, Cllr Randerson said he “still had concerns” about the agreement with Benchmark and the nature of the loan and repayments to the council.The loan to build the waterpark was passed by a single vote in 2013.