Park cafe predicted to leave £190k hole in council funds
While councillors were arguing about whether they could afford to take £50,000 from the museum’s budget, money was draining away elsewhere.
Members of the heritage, culture and leisure committee meeting last Tuesday learned that the Mote Park Cafe run by the council was in serious trouble.
It should have made a profit of £84,416 by the end of December. Instead it had already made a loss of £68,383.
Mark Green, the director of finance, was predicting a loss of £151,520 by the end of March, leaving a £197,000 hole in the council’s budget.
The bad news was only partially offset by savings elsewhere. The council has not spent as much in sports development as it had planned, saving nearly £30,000, and sales for services at the crematorium were booming, bringing in an extra £51,000
‘If the cafe were in private hands, would it be allowed to run like this?’
income beyond what had been expected.
The situation at the cafe, which has suffered from fewer customers than predicted, is being urgently reviewed and will be reported to councillors monthly in future.
Cllr Dave Naghi (Lib Dem) said: “You have to ask, if the cafe were in private hands, would it be allowed to run like this?”
A council spokesman said: “The council has been running the Mote Park cafe for a little over a year, and it is correct that the trading performance since then has not met our initial expectations.
“We continue to make operational adjustments that we expect will improve the situation and we are continuing to explore new and improved visitor facilities within the park that will improve the overall visitor experience and create stronger long term revenues.”
Cllr Dave Naghi