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'No Legal Charge Needed Against Benchmark' Says Scarborough Councillor

Alpamare Scarborough

Published by the Yorkshire Coast Radio News Team at 6:01am 12th January 2018. (Updated at 6:05am 12th January 2018)

Scarborough Borough Council has no legal charge against Benchmark Leisure.

That's from Councillor Helen Mallory, the reason being that the council still owns the land of their development of the Alpamare Waterpark.

Benchmark has taken out a 35 year lease from the council. However, should the company go into insolvency, the council would just reclaim the land back, according to Councillor Mallory.

The issue was discussed at a full council meeting, where Councillor Tony Randerson brought up an article that appeared in the publication Private Eye in December. 

It said:

"Of concern is a £9 million unsecured loan the council made in 2013 to Benchmark Leisure Ltd (BLL) to build a water park in Scarborough. It has emerged that the legal department forgot to register the £9 million loan as a charge against the company. This oversight means that, should the firm go belly-up, the council will be at the back of the queue of creditors."

Councillor Mallory says that's not true:

"We still remain the freeholder of the land. On that basis, there was no need to take out a separate legal charge against the company because we have freehold ownership of the site.

That includes the water park and of the adjoining car park. For the person on the street to understand, it's like a mortgage.

If you take a mortgage out from a bank or a building society, until you pay that money back, they have ownership of your house.

Councillor Mallory also spoke of Benchmark's latest development concerning the North bay cinema. 

We told you last month how delays in the work meant that it is now expected to be ready in Easter 2019, rather than Autumn 2018 as was originally planned. 

Councillor Mallory added:

"It is frustrating yes. The frustration is that things don't move as fast as we'd like them to move, but then we want to make sure everything is correct and done properly.

If it takes a little bit longer to get the best result, then I'm happy to wait."

You can listen to the full interview with Councillor Mallory here:

Comments

There are 2 comments on this page.

Pete Sumpton, on 12th January 2018 5:26pm
Dearly me, how daft is this woman and these people, the question was about the loan, not the freehold. If it goes belly up today, where do the residents get the £9m from??? Yes we own the land always have so that’s not an issue if that’s the case. The issue is an unsecured loan, so answer the question, where do we get our 9m from??
Rob Forrester, on 13th January 2018 10:40am
My thoughts exactly Pete. I noticed Councillor Mallory squeezed in a "my understanding is" disclaimer. I would hope it was more than just the Councillor's understanding, but a legal confirmation. I'd be surprised if owning the land gave them automatic rights to the building and assets within the complex without a legal claim. Even if it was agreed that they had a claim, would Scarborough Council run Alpamare? They've never had a great record for running commercial developments with success. Likely due to ridiculous oversights of no legal charge when loaning £9m of public money to private enterprise!

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