Sunday, 8 July 2012

Arguments ahead over fate of Storey

Blamire: "It is important that the council continues
to support the vision for the Storey Creative
Industries Centre."
Lancaster City Council discussed the future of Lancaster's troubled Storey Creative Industries Centre in Lancaster at a Cabinet meeting last week - but the decision to place the building under the Council's direct control has not been welcomed by all councillors.

The Council's move follows reports that tenants in the building were quitting in the face of rent rises - and now problems over a loan made to the Centre have brought further crisis.

In September 2008, the city council approved the provision of financial support of more than £133,000 to SCIC Limited over a three year period,  in recognition that it would be difficult for the company to break even over this period of time but that the company expected to move into surplus by its fourth year of operation.

However, in December last year it became apparent that this was not the case when SCIC Limited requested a loan from the council for £90,000, to be paid back over a three year period. This request for financial assistance was approved after taking into consideration various factors including the impact on the building’s tenants.

Since then, the city council has not only been talking to SCIC Limited about the future for the building, but has been monitoring it on meeting the loan conditions. It has now become clear that these have not been met and, as a result, Cabinet agreed last week to support the Storey Institute being used as a creative industries centre - but under the council's direct management and control.

The decision has been criticized by the Conservatives, who have proposed a motion for Full Council on 18th July arguing it is "wrong".

virtual-lancaster also understands that the Conservatives are preparing a "call-in" that will mean the decision may be referred to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. If it is allowed to proceed - and takes place before the Council meeting - the need for a debate on the motion at Council may be avoided.

"It is important that the council continues to support the vision for the Storey Creative Industries Centre and uses its experience in running and managing facilities to help build a strong and viable operation," argues Councillor Eileen Blamire, Leader of the Council.

"At the same time it is recognised that the SCIC Board, which is fully supportive of working in partnership with the council, could help bring a wealth of experience and enthusiasm for creative industries to the centre and therefore there is still a role for it to play in providing valuable development support and advice."

“Through the new arrangements, the aim is to secure a brighter future for the Storey and its tenants , so it can continue to provide a centre of expertise and knowledge hub for the creative industries sector."

• For background information and the options considered, please see the public report at http://committeeadmin.lancaster.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=297&MId=5900

No comments: