Grant Funding Feared to Be Revoked As Spaces Remain Unoccupied at Arts Center

Lucas Gilmore, “Big 4″ observer
December 03, 2010 /

After two years since West Bromwich center at New Street was opened to the public for rent, spaces in the first and fourth floors of the building remained unoccupied, sparking fears that investors might claw back the grant funding for the infrastructure.

This was what auditors from KPMG have reported, saying if these spaces would not attract tenants anytime soon, the risk of having the investors get back the grant funding worth millions of pounds does not loom far from happening.

KPMG has already warned before that the European Regional Development Fund, which shelled out £8 million for the project, has every right and capacity to revoke the grant funding if the management of West Bromwich center could not invite tenants to occupy the vacant spaces, though its ‘lily pad’ offices are already leased.

KPMG stated in its updated audit report that it is pressing for the council to seek tenants for the unoccupied spaces before investors realize clawing back the grant funding. The report, which the Sandwell audit committee will discuss on Monday, has warned the council of the implications should mothballing or decommissioning the arts center continue.

The council has also been warned to be prepared of the potential rise in the operating costs, and that this might require additional considerations of demolition and building costs.

The council currently refines the draft of its response to KPMG’s recommendations.

Linda Saunders, managing director of the Public, said the remaining unoccupied spaces in West Bromwich center should not stop the program and result in the claw-back of the grant funding.

 

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