Council looks into Hartlepool Maritime Experience cash opportunities

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COUNCIL officers are to carry out a feasibility study exploring “all options” to generate income and make savings at a popular tourist attraction.

Senior councillors called for the study to be carried out at the Hartlepool Maritime Experience (HME) site at a recent Hartlepool Borough Council meeting.

Christopher Akers-Belcher

Christopher Akers-Belcher

A report was presented to councillors asking for approval to agree revised terms for the renewal of the lease on the coffee shop and function rooms at the popular site, which is a re-creation of an 18th Century seaport which brings to life the time of Nelson, Napoleon and the Battle of Trafalgar.

But councillors didn’t want to agree to the new lease, the details of which were not made public, before a feasibility study had been carried out on the whole site to explore options for generating income and savings.

The HME is also home to HMS Trincomalee – the oldest British warship still afloat and the Museum of Hartlepool.

The plans were agreed at a recent meeting of the council’s new finance and policy committee.

During the meeting, officers said the new lease had been structured to provide certainty and clarity in relation to the annual rent, treatment of utility costs and contribution to general rates and repair liabilities as well as being based on market rental and values.

Denise Ogden, the council’s director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, said the new three-year lease went some way to securing certainty with respect to the income required for the operation of HME.

But members were keen to “explore all options” around generating income.

Council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher, who chairs the committee, said: “We need to have a look at the full foot print and explore all options to see how we can generate greater income.

“It may be that this is the best option but it is difficult to make a decision without that additional work and we need to explore these options.”

Coun Akers-Belcher asked committee members to defer making a decision until all other options had been explored.

Councillors asked what would happen to the current tenancy arrangements for the coffee shop and function rooms but it was confirmed the current lease arrangements can continue until councillors have considered the wider study.

For information and HME ticket prices call (01429) 860077 or visit www.hartlepoolsmaritimeexperience.com