Frustration over Sports Domes cash delay

The Sports Domes at Seaton Carew
The Sports Domes at Seaton Carew

FINANCE chiefs have reassured councillors there is no risk to the authority due to a delay in receiving a cash boost from owners of Seaton Carew’s Sports Domes.

Hartlepool Borough Council agreed in March to accept a confidential, but significant lump sum from the Domes’ owners in exchange for the release of the authority’s financial interest in the development.

Bosses at the Sports Domes, in Tees Road, have said the deal will allow them to secure further investment in the site and add more facilities.

Questions have been raised about the situation by councillors and members of the public after delays in receiving the money.

It led to officers preparing a report on any potential risks to the authority caused by the delay that went before the council’s Finance and Policy Committee on this week.

They stated that although the expected money has been earmarked for various things, most of it has not yet been spent.

The plans for the money include helping to manage the financial risks associated with a £1.5 million two-year interest-free loan used to buy Jackson’s Landing.

It is also earmarked to employ new enforcement officers and fund the council’s free summer swims scheme.

Chris Little, the council’s chief financial officer, said in the report: “Clearly, the delay in the receipt of the one-off monies from the Domes is frustrating.

“However, these issues have been reported openly, as far as practical within the constraints of not undermining the council’s negotiating position.”

The council agreed to release a restrictive covenant on the Domes land in 2012 to allow part of it to be used for residential development, with the proceeds of the land sale invested by the owner to develop the facilities.

The authority also negotiated a minimum compensation payment for the release of the covenant under a Clawback Deed legal agreement where the money was to be paid to the council by the developer in instalments over 15 years.

The council says the legal agreement means any sale of the Domes cannot proceed without its agreement and payment of the monies.

Mr Little added: “In the event, and there is no suggestion at this stage that this will be the case, that the one-off payment is not received, the council will still be able to enforce the terms of the original Clawback Deed, ie the council will receive annual instalments over a 15-year period, or a one-off payment upon sale of the domes.”