Monday 17th December 2018,
North Yorks Enquirer

SBC Report Large OAT Losses

The woeful record of Tory investment on behalf the Borough taxpayer is again under the spotlight after Scarborough Borough Council (SBC) forecast a £148,000 loss for the 2018/19 season at the Open Air Theatre. The eye-watering loss comes on top of a reported £211,000 loss for the current 2017/18 season.

The flagship music venue, one of many ideas put forward by the Scarborough and Whitby Conservatives to achieve a renaissance in the Borough, has been open seven seasons and has yet to make a profit.

The Enquirer has previously compiled the total amount of taxpayer money poured into the OAT by the Tories. The current and projected losses bring the total amount of taxpayer’s money spent on the OAT past £5million.

From: StJohn Harris
Date: 26 February 2018 at 12:15:53 GMT
Subject: Open Air Theatre
To: Members of the Council

Dear Cllr

Further to the question put to Cllr Jenkinson at the Council meeting on 8 January in respect of the performance of the Open Air Theatre, here is his response:

Open Air Theatre

Summer 2017 saw the biggest and busiest season for the OAT to date. Total sales have broken all records reaching 74,096 which was over 25,000 more than the previous year. Average attendance for the shows was 5,293.

Following on from Cuffe and Taylor’s acquisition in December 2016 by Live Nation Entertainment, one of the biggest entertainment companies in the world, the Council has recently agreed a new 10 year deal with Live Nation (UK). Live Nation is a global entertainment company and this new deal commences from the 2018 summer season.

Live Nation have requested that they and the Council work together to provide a permanent decking solution in front of the stage, to increase the capacity of the venue from 5,454 to 7,456 (seated) or 7,900 (standing), thereby giving a higher revenue income and increasing the venue’s flexibility. This project has commenced and is expected to be completed by the end of March. The Council is funding the upfront cost of these works but will be repaid by Live Nation over the period of the contract.

Budgets for the Open Air Theatre have been agreed for 2018/19 as part of the budget setting process and the net cost of the venue is forecast to be £148k. These budgets have been robustly challenged and are deemed to be achievable.

The net cost of the venue in 2017/18 is expected to be £211k, £48k higher than budget and there are two principal reasons for the overspend:

1. Cost of erection and dismantle of the stage – this has proved to be more expensive than envisaged in 2017 and will be £24k higher than budget but did include some one off costs to ensure future years’ costs could be reduced. This contract has now been retendered and future costs will be within budget with the possibility of a small saving.

2. Venue security (non show days) – this costs are also expected to be £24k higher than budget. The principal reason for this is that security has been provided for a longer period and for longer hours than in recent years. The necessity for this is not expected to be repeated and therefore the budget should be achieved in future years.

Kind regards

St John Harris, Democratic Services Manager, Democratic and Legal Services
Scarborough Borough Council, Town Hall, St Nicholas St, Scarborough, YO11 2HG

The Tories need help with understanding what an investment on behalf of the local taxpayer should achieve.

If the Scarborough and Whitby Tories amaze everyone and turn a £10,000 profit in the 2019/20 season, they’ll have to maintain that profit level for 500 years to make a return on our investment.

Who wrote the business plan for this sinkhole for taxpayer’s money? Hans Christian Anderson?

If the OAT can’t make a profit when 88% of the tickets are being sold, can it ever make a profit? The only people who seem to be making any money are the promoters. This is not a good deal for the Borough taxpayer.

The amateur Tories are playing at being developers and they lack the most rudimentary business sense. With a business plan wholly unfit for purpose, the Tories have gambled heavily with taxpayer’s money and have lost in excess of £5million. We are all paying for their incompetence with ever increasing council tax.

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