5 October 2015

Response to criticisms of the council made by Saltdean Lido CIC

Geoff Raw, Brighton & Hove City Council acting chief executive, issued a briefing to councillors and the media on Saturday, 3 October in response to criticisms of the council made by Saltdean Lido CIC.

The briefing outlined that:

Saltdean Lido CIC was awarded the project over another commercial bidder on the basis that the CIC would secure all of the funding itself and deliver the project without additional council funds. 

The council spent considerable time and resource getting the Lido back from its previous owner in order to create the opportunity for the site to be refurbished.

The council is not leading this project nor is it a partner or board member of the CIC. The council is not involved in the CIC’s financial, project management and contractual arrangements.  

Council officers and ward members met with the Saltdean Lido CIC on Friday, 2 October.

The discussion at this meeting was how to support the CIC in finding £68,000 for an electricity sub station. At the meeting officers went through the CIC’s accounts and were able to identify around £50,000 of contingency funding and so we looked to find the balance through a loan. We had to ensure that the proper legal and financial arrangements are in place given that the loan has been requested in advance of a Policy & Resources Committee, where these decisions are formally made. The officers made it clear at the meeting that they would work as quickly as they could to secure an agreement but they could not be held to a CIC imposed deadline.

While this was being arranged, Saltdean Lido CIC issued a press release criticising present and previous council administrations, for failing to support the restoration of the Lido. 

Geoff Raw called Rebecca Crook from the CIC and she apologised but said that she was unwilling to withdraw the press release.

Geoff was informed by Rebecca during the telephone call that the CIC wish to submit to us a new version of their accounts next week that will demonstrate that they cannot release £50k of contingency.

Over the summer, the Leader of the Council and myself have also been approached by the CIC on a separate occasion for a very significant amount of additional funding. I have pointed out the procurement issues this raises and I have also requested a full business case.  We are advised by the CIC this will not be available until November and would be a matter which would need to come to the Policy & Resources Committee.   

We have taken legal advice on whether the council has any obligation to fund the electricity sub-station and the advice is that we don’t.

The team of council officers and Geoff will continue to work positively to support the CIC in finding a solution to their financial challenges but we are obliged to do this within legal and financial parameters.