Scunthorpe Baths Hall a year after opening: Value for money pledge by council bosses
North Lincolnshire Council has stressed that it is committed to ensuring value for money for the taxpayers funding the Baths Hall.
The Telegraph understands the venue, which is about to mark its first anniversary, is funded by around £500,000 of taxpayers' cash a year, while a further £15.4 million of public cash was used to develop the site.
Baths Hall officials have declined to reveal how many people have attended the venue since it opened, or reveal profit levels, but they say the first year has been a success.
The project was approved by the previous Labour administration and was opposed by the Tories.
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However, Conservative council leader Liz Redfern said: "Many residents have experienced the fantastic facilities at the Baths Hall. There have been a number of big name artists which have attracted some large audiences.
"As a council, we are absolutely committed to ensuring that The Baths Hall is a successful venue. We are constantly pressing to ensure that taxpayers' money is delivered effectively against the business plan set in 2009. It is essential that we are able to secure a strong mix of local, national and international talent so that audiences see the Baths Hall as a venue of choice."
The venue, in Doncaster Road, got off to a flying start on November 11 last year with a sell-out for comic Bill Bailey – and the pattern has been repeated several times since. But despite requests from the Scunthorpe Telegraph, neither the owners, North Lincolnshire Council, nor the operators, SMG Europe, were willing to discuss the cost of subsidising the business and say whether the Baths is making money.
Baths spokesman Paul Savage said: "There have been a number of sell-outs, including Roy Chubby Brown tomorrow (November 9). It's not for us to comment on value for money."
Scunthorpe MP Nic Dakin said: "Feedback from local people to me has been overwhelmingly positive.
"But it is still early days and I am sure that the management team will want to reflect on what has gone well and what could go better so that the council tax payer and the public as a whole get the best possible deal."
Councillor Mark Kirk, the leader of the opposition Labour group on North Lincolnshire Council who signed off the development when last in power, said: "It is excellent news that many an ardent opponent has been converted into supporting the achievements of the Baths. Obviously the business plan of the Baths now lies with the controlling group on North Lincolnshire Council in conjunction with SMG – one that I'm no longer privy to.
"But I would hope that both parties work together for the continued success in future years."