Sunday 19th May 2024,
North Yorks Enquirer

“Open Air Loser”

An Open Letter from TONY RANDERSON (a Councillor at both North Yorkshire County Council and Scarborough Borough Council) to Councillor Martin Smith [Con.], Portfolio Holder for Tourism regarding the financial disaster known locally as “the OAT”.

OAT losses were first reported upon in 2013 by North Yorks Enquirer Editor and UKIP Candidate Tim Thorne and lately in 2018. Still losing after all these years.


Open Letter – Open Air Theatre

Cllr Smith,

Within your Portfolio report, just as your predecessor did, you make much of the record crowds visiting the OAT, figures that I would not even attempt to challenge.

You also make much of just how this facility is benefitting Hoteliers and Traders alike, utilising “guesstimates” to determine just by how much this is benefiting these people in the Borough.

I have to say this is a fantastic facility within our Borough.

However, what you leave out of this report on the OAT is just how much this is financially benefitting SBC and its long suffering tax paying residents.

There are residents, such as those on my patch in Eastfield, who are in many cases unemployed, or on the minimum wage or zero hour contracts, in some cases have to utilise food banks to get by.

Many of these good people cannot even think of attending the OAT, primarily because of the high cost of the tickets.

So please enlighten me as to just how this deal with Live Nation, the promoters of the OAT, benefits these good people and all the others throughout the Borough who have little or no interests, financially or otherwise, in Traders or Hoteliers.

Just how can an agreement with, as you rightly say, these record attendances not have any benefit at all to SBC?

Just why is it that the profit share element of this agreement is seemingly heavily weighted in favour of Live Nation?

Now, I say this without actually knowing the terms of this profit share. All I can find is that the current profit share will continue as in the original agreement.

But what I do know is that last season, 2017/18, the OAT made a significant loss to the tax payers of this Borough to the tune of over £220,000.

This current year is looking to be running at a deficit too.

Just how can this be, with all these record attendances you mention.

This at a time when the Council’s finances are in such a perilous position; this at a time when this authority is closing down even the most basic of facilities such as public toilets.

Our front line services are suffering and surely we should be ensuring any agreements reached on behalf of our tax payers are on the basis that facilities such as this have a better than even chance of making a profit to plough back into those front line services that are suffering so much. For our residents.

I am aware that the philosophy of the Council has been in the past that such ventures are budgeted for a loss, but this in my opinion must change.

We cannot afford to ride along to that same tune in these very difficult financial times.

More and more Councils are being run – purely due to these austerity measures – as business ventures such as a number at NYCC.

Any business should be aiming for a profit and not a significant loss, this is common sense.

The agreement/contract currently in place strikes me to be heavily weighted in favour of Live Nation and my view is that this requires rectifying and sooner rather than later, in order to benefit ALL our residents, rather than what seems to be a small minority.

Could I also ask, with regard to Water Park just what has happened to the promised Spa Facility – seemingly yet another promise from Benchmark that has not been delivered.

Kind regards,


Tony Randerson
Eastfield Ward

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