We’ve a duty to ensure that taxpayers' money is spent wisely
Following recent letters about Braintree Town Football Club to Braintree & Witham Times, it is important to clarify the council’s position and spell out the facts.Published: Wednesday, 18th January 2017
The Council has supported the Football Club to improve its current facilities with a £150,000 loan at a low interest rate. We also helped to fund an options appraisal for a new stadium at a cost of £75,000.
When the Council originally sold the land to the Club in 1995 the deal was that it was sold at the very low price of £45,000 and if the club then wanted to sell the land for other uses such as housing development, taxpayers were entitled to 50% of what the land is now worth. Asking that taxpayers give up this share, now likely to be worth several million pounds, so the club can use all the money to build a new stadium sounds like a significant handout to me.
It is important to remember that the Club is a private company and the Council has a legal duty to ensure that taxpayers' money is spent wisely and to prioritise investment – such as our support for new health facilities where there is a low risk and a reasonable return rate allowing us to reinvest in the district.
If there was an option for a ground that is ‘entirely self-funding and at no cost to the taxpayer’ we would support it. But none of the options we have explored with the club have been realistic or viable.
The Council remains supportive of the club, but unfortunately we have gone as far as we can in trying to help them move and we have to accept that there is not a financially viable solution.
Cllr Lady Newton
Cabinet Member for Planning and Housing