Leader quizzed after £45k help for ski slope

Rossendale Free Press - - News - CHAR­LOTTE GREEN

ROSSENDALE coun­cil’s leader has hit back at a claim she ‘mis­led’ the coun­cil over the ‘fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity’ of Ski Rossendale.

Coun­cil bosses agreed a fund­ing pack­age to loan the slope £28,900, in­crease busi­ness rate re­lief to save it a fur­ther £16,400, and de­fer re­pay­ment of £92,000 in ex­ist­ing coun­cil loans by 12 months, in a be­hind­closed-doors cab­i­net de­ci­sion last month.

Coun­cil leader Alyson Barnes was quizzed dur­ing public ques­tions at the re­cent full coun­cil meet­ing about pre­vi­ous re­marks she made to cab­i­net in Novem­ber 2016.

Michael Pickup, Rossendale’s UKIP branch leader, asked: “The leader of the coun­cil told this coun­cil that Ski Rossendale was go­ing from strength to strength, de­spite five years of con­sec­u­tive losses.

“Why has she mis­led the coun­cil as to the fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity of Ski Rossendale, to her own po­lit­i­cal ends?”

Coun Barnes replied: “Any losses made by the com­pany have ac­tu­ally been met by the com­pany it­self.

“At the cab­i­net meet­ing last Novem­ber I was quot­ing the words of an of­fi­cer in a re­port, say­ing that Ski Rossendale is go­ing from strength to strength re­cently with ski and snow­board­ing on of­fer for every age and abil­ity.

“The fi­nan­cial mat­ters of Ski Rossendale are not the direct re­spon­si­bil­ity of Rossendale Bor­ough Coun­cil.”

Con­ser­va­tive Coun Peter Steen said his group are ‘ very proud’ of the so­cial en­ter­prise, but added: “Fur­ther re­ports state the di­rec­tors of the ski slope seem re­luc­tant to put any fur­ther money in – is it fair for the tax­payer to step in?”

But Coun Andy MacNae, cab­i­net mem­ber for tourism, re­but­ted this con­cern, say­ing: “The di­rec­tors are putting in their own money and they con­tinue to do so.

“I think we can all agree that Ski Rossendale is some­thing of great value to the Val­ley.

“Right now it brings 30,000 vis­i­tors a year and there is huge po­ten­tial to do more than that.

“It be­came clear that really more sup­port would be very ben­e­fi­cial to help them with that turn­around process.

“It gives the whole fa­cil­ity a much greater chance of suc­ceed­ing.”

Last month Ski Rossendale di­rec­tor Dave Fuller ad­vised us that the out­look for the cen­tre is ‘pos­i­tive’ and that the ad­di­tional coun­cil loan will help it to achieve its ‘po­ten­tial’.

Coun­cil leader Alyson Barnes faced ques­tions from UKIP’s Michael Pickup (both in­set) after the coun­cil agreed loans and rate re­lief worth more than £45,000 to Ski Rossendale

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