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From the UKIP Great Yarmouth Association Archives

Mean or Financially Prudent

As the debate and accusations fly regarding the recent Economic Development Committee's decision not to support the proposal for an Ice Skating rink in the Great Yarmouth town centre this year, we consider it a good example of where UKIP's responsibilities as Councillors differ from that of the old established parties.

Firstly the background to the issue is as follows;

In 2015 an Ice Skating rink was hired by the Borough Council in the run up to Christmas. The costs of this project were presented to the Economic Development Committee to assess the viability of its hire again for this year. The net cost (loss) presented to the committee by the Borough Council officers could not be guaranteed not to escalate in excess of £100k.

Factors on which the projected cost depended were ticket sales variation, down time due to weather conditions, breakdowns, and the fact, as highlighted as a concern in the officers’ report, that with competition from next year’s air show, it could not be ruled out that sponsors could choose to assign their sponsorship budgets to that as opposed to the the Ice Skating rink.

The figure of £100k is significant because this is the limit of the financial remit that this committee has on deciding projects that are put before them and it was felt that it was highly likely that the losses of the project would escalate well above this figure. It was felt that a decision to support the proposal would lead to a financially uncontrollable situation to the detriment of the funds available to the Town Centre.

Furthermore it was regarded as being a core principle by which UKIP Councillors were elected to be financially responsible with rate payers’ money. UKIP Councillors have promised the electorate to eradicate this open cheque book attitude and adopt a level of financial scrutiny alien to most political groups.

Ice Skating rink or Roller Skating rink.

To say no to this project without any consideration to an alternative would be denying residents and visitors alike the opportunity to experience an addition to the town centre which could enhance the retailing environment. Contrary to the perceived view that all retailers in the area supported the project and recognised it as feature of the town centre that would boost trade, many had experienced no noticeable addition to their takings during the period the rink was open.

This leads us to the question of what cost do you put on the feel good factor. Again with a financially responsible starting point UKIP Group leader Kay Grey has asked for the cost of purchasing a reusable, perhaps synthetic, ice or roller-skating rink to be assessed. The thinking behind this view is that in terms of value for money, purchase would be a better use of rate payers’ money than that of hire and as a capital assets that could be not only be multi purpose but multi seasonal it would give greater return on the purchase price.

Cllr Kay Grey said

Don't just look at the facility as a roller skating rink to be used just at Christmas time or indeed just to be used as a skating rink, it could be multi purpose for use as anything from junior hockey to skating pageants, used in town centres or villages for hire or for community enjoyment. This proposal would give ongoing enjoyment for many years to come.  Yes, there would be deployment and maintenance costs, but these would be far less than re hiring the Ice Skating rink year after year.”

Cllr Chris Walch, who conducted his own survey of many of the town centre businesses, said

“ It was quite clear to me that in terms of any financial gain to the many smaller businesses I surveyed, the gain was negligible and the event passed them by un-noticed and in many cases did not result in any upturn in business.

So the question I asked myself was what was the actual cost to the rate payer of this event and was it value for money?

The report I had presented to me at the Economic Development Committee ( June 6th 2016 ) highlighted the following actual and projected costs but with no guarantee regarding sponsorship or down time due to weather and maintenance which would impact on ticket sales.

Total cost for project for 2015                         Ticket sales                     Sponsorship                    Cost ( loss )

            £ 202,238                                                £ 66,556                            £27,137                        £108,546

Projected cost for project for 2016

£ 207,295                                           £ 69,884                           £28,494                           £108,546

By the time the Economic Development Committee had convened on 7th September 2016, the documents presented to me had been updated as follows;

Projected cost of project for 2016                  Ticket sales                    Sponsorship                      Cost ( loss)

              £ 197,295                                         £ 69,884                           £28,494                              £98,917

It appeared to me that now the cost (loss) in the revised document would be within the £ 100k remit for consideration by this committee but again with no guarantees that the deficit would not increase.”

We await the costings on purchase from the officers but in parallel to this you can see our own costings for the roller-skating rink by clicking on the image below.

Ice Skating rink website piece Mk 2.pdf

East Meets East

Friday 21st October saw a visit to Great Yarmouth by Ambassador Alisher Kumanov of Uzbekistan. Hosted at our Eastern region office  by our MEP Stuart Agnew, the Ambassador was treated to not only a guided tour of our historic Town Hall with its impressive painting of the battle of Trafalgar, which depicts the victory over the French & Spanish navies in 1805 by Nelson, one of our most famous Norfolk sons, but also to sample our traditional Great Yarmouth fish & chips for lunch.

The visit was at the request of the Uzbekistan government as part of their efforts to meet with European Union MEPs to talk about possible future ties with the EU. Stuart highlighted the fact that after the Brexit process, we may be in a position in the future to negotiate unilaterally between our respective countries on issues such as trade.

Phrases like out "of the EU and into the world" seem to spring to mind ! 

Click to see our costings

  EU In/Out Debate

On Thursday 19th November the Great Yarmouth Racecourse was the venue for the latest in a series of 10 EU Referendum Showdowns being held in the Eastern Region. For the Stay In camp were Cllr John Lowan and Cllr Stuart Wilson, two names that were not exactly household names in Great Yarmouth and the surrounding areas. For the Leave the EU camp were our very own Eastern region MEP Stuart Agnew and UKIP Deputy Leader Susan Evans.

The whole debate was conducted in good spirit ably refereed by Harbour Radio's Neville Moore. But whilst the time limit was equally allocated, monitored to the last second, the Stay In team made very little impression when answering the questions from the 60 strong audience. High on the list of concerns of the audience was Border control, Common Agricultural Policy, Immigration, the refugee crisis and NHS staffing. The last section of the evening consisted of a poll of the audience to gauge their present position on the forthcoming EU referendum. The result; 1 person in favour of remaining - 1 person undecided - 58 in favour of leaving. A clear indication of what the audience want - but what about you ?

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