Bradford Councillor angry as £200,000 goes to Bradford Bulls after nothing to Thornton Bronte Birthplace Trust (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Bradford Councillor angry as £200,000 goes to Bradford Bulls after nothing to Thornton Bronte Birthplace Trust
A senior councillor is calling on Bradford Council to explain its policy on granting loans after it refused to save the Thornton birthplace of the Brontes but gave a £200,000 loan to Bradford Bulls.
Liberal Democrat group leader Councillor Jeanette Sunderland has written to the Council’s chief executive Tony Reeves saying she was “astonished” at the decision.
It is understood that Bradford Bulls has been granted a £200,000 commercial loan – which must be paid back with proper interest. The Council would not give financial support to help Bronte Birthplace Trust buy the Thornton property, which is valued at about £120,000, and preserve it as part of Bradford’s cultural heritage.
In her letter to Mr Reeves, Coun Sunderland says: “I understand that you have refused to loan money to the group in Thornton who want help to purchase the Bronte birthplace in Thornton, so they could secure the finance to preserve this important piece of their heritage.
“Where has the Council published a policy that supports professional sports clubs with working capital loans and not residents who want to protect our heritage or any other group for that matter? I am astonished by the decision to loan to one group and not to the other. Please can you offer an explanation?”
Coun Sunderland said in the letter that she had written to the Council’s external auditor about the loan to the Bulls.
“The issues I raise are about the probity of the loan, how due diligence was demonstrated, secrecy and risk. I am sure that in due course he will be reporting his findings,” she added.
Council leader Councillor David Green said the Council gave commercial loans to businesses but said he would not go into specific details. He said that the Bulls loan did not have to go through the Council’s Executive, but was done under financial regulations with the finance department.
“It is not a grant, it is a loan,” Coun Green said. “We negotiated it in the same way we negotiate loans with any other business in the district. The one I can think of is the loan to complete Jurys Inn development with Provident.
“This is a commercial loan based on sureties the Council has been given that we will get the money back. I am confident that our finance department has done everything they can to ensure that is the case.
“If any other organisation came to us tomorrow for a commercial loan we would look at it in the same way we looked at this.
“Officers spent a lot of time looking at the Thornton proposal to see if there was some way through it. They gave a different proposal than a commercial one and we were not able to support it.”