‘Where’s the money?’ – Hartlepool Council still hasn’t received cash for Seaton Carew Sports Domes

Seaton Ward councillor Paul Thompson
Seaton Ward councillor Paul Thompson

A CHIEF executive has moved to reassure councillors that Hartlepool Borough Council is still in line for a cash boost.

Earlier this year, it was revealed the local authority was set for an unexpected funding boost which it planned to help repair roads, employ enforcement officers and fund a free swim scheme for children.

It came after the council accepted a confidential – but significant – lump sum from the owners of the Sports Domes, in Tees Road, at Seaton Carew in exchange for the release of the authority’s financial interest in the development.

It emerged at Thursday night’s full council meeting, however, that the local authority is yet to receive the money, as the deal is yet to be completed.

But Dave Stubbs, chief executive, moved to reassure councillors that as far as he was concerned the funding injection would still be coming.

The issue was raised by independent councillor Paul Thompson, who asked: “Is that deal going ahead, and has the council got the money?”

In response, Mr Stubbs said: “I believe the deal is going through – it is subject to some final details.

“As far as we are concerned, in the past few days, we think it is still on but no, we have still not got the money yet.”

Coun Thompson said there was a “great rush” to make a decision in March to release the council’s interest, and the way in which the money would be spent. He questioned the urgency behind it.

Mr Stubbs said the local authority was only given several days to make a decision around the authority’s interest because otherwise the deal may have fallen through, which is why it was considered urgent.

When the money does come through, part of it will be used to fund the free swim scheme this summer, employing new enforcement officers and help managing the risks around the £1.5m two-year interest-free loan from a Government growth fund used to buy Jacksons Landing.

It will also help towards road resurfacing schemes in the town.

Bosses at the Domes said from their point of view it would allow them to secure further investment in the site and to add more facilities.

The site already includes two domes for football and golf, a health and fitness studio and an ice rink to follow.

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

It was agreed, subject to repayment over 15 years, and the lump sum offer was accepted.