Taxpayers are ‘biggest losers’

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CRITICS have slammed the “ridiculously low” price paid for Spalding’s Red Lion Quarter and claim taxpayers are the biggest losers in the deal.

Boston College has agreed to pay £2.4million for the town centre premises – which cost around £6.5m to build – in a deal signed with South Holland District Council last week.

The figure includes £2million which the college owed the council after borrowing its initial capital contribution to the building.

But former president of Spalding and District Area Chamber of Commerce Jason Rooke, who took the council to task over the Red Lion Quarter’s management during his time in office, said: “I knew the figure was going to be low, but that is ridiculously low.

“And to say it hasn’t cost council taxpayers anything is clearly wrong.”

In announcing the sale, South Holland District Council said its financial input to the project had been £200,000 from its own funds and £500,000 of Section 106 money – given by developers to benefit the town.

But Mr Rooke said the total ploughed into the project by the council had probably been closer to £1m after taking into account the bail-out it offered when it became clear the food hall was failing.

And he added: “They are obviously trying to make out that the s106 money is not taxpayers’ money, but effectively it is still our money that needs to go to benefit the town.

“Having a college in town will be a benefit but that has yet to be made a success. The restaurant was the only bit that was a success and that has now failed.

“That’s another nail in its coffin – where is it going to end?”

Current president of the Chamber Phil Scarlett echoed Mr Rooke’s sentiments over the sale price, but said it was now time to look to the future.

He said: “I don’t think this was a good deal for the people of Spalding but we need to remember the state that area of town was in before the Red Lion Quarter was built.

“We can’t forget we now have a gleaming building and a college of further education in the centre of town, so that’s two very positive things to come out of this.

“The challenge now, going forward, is what courses are Boston College going to offer at the Red Lion Quarter and are they related to what young people in this area need to find work.”