The full cost of propping up Winter Gardens revealed
PUBLISHED: 15:09 09 January 2020 | UPDATED: 08:53 11 January 2020
Archant Norfolk © 2015
The taxpayer has already spent at least £250,000 on Great Yarmouth’s decaying Winter Gardens as the iconic building prepares to be filled with scaffolding.
Urgent repairs are scheduled to begin next week, after £100,000 was set aside for the work in September last year and a further unspecified sum given the nod in October.
Meanwhile, figures obtained by this newspaper reveal close to £150,000 has been spent on insurance, repairs, maintenance and preparations for grant applications in the last decade to October 31 last year.
Leader of the Labour group Trevor Wainwright said the building had been "a huge drain" over the last ten years, but the council was "between a rock and a hard place" when it came to spending money on the structure.
On the one hand it was a valued heritage asset of national significance that could be spectacular again, on the other it was hard to "keep pouring money into it" if it wasn't going to work.
However, the building was heavily protected and the cost of taking it down would run into millions and while it was standing it had to be made safe.
"It's a delicate balance," he said. "If the bid is not successful the council will have to have a re-think."
There has been no capital spend in the last ten years but revenue expenditure according to Freedom of Information disclosures is described below:
2014-15 total £24,980.00
2015-16 total £22,468.00
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2016-17 total £16,626.00
2017-18 total £44,800.00
2018-19 total £8,601.00
2019-20 total £20,631
The council said it was unable to determine specific spend on the building before the 2014/15 financial year when it moved over to a new system.
Before then repairs and maintenance were delivered through the council's general conservation budget which covered multiple buildings.
It estimated the spend from 2009 to 2013 to have been £9,000.
The building famously cost just £1 when it was transported by barge from Torquay to Great Yarmouth more than 100 years ago.
Named by the Victorian Society as one of the UK's 10 most endangered buildings, it is also on Historic England's buildings-at-risk register.
A statement supplied with the figures said: "Expenditure represents crucial investment by the council to help maintain this nationally-important listed structure while the council continues to seek the significant external funds required for repair/restoration, and a suitable operator to run a sustainable business within this historic landmark.
"Expenditure also assists the council to better understand potential repair costs, explore potential end uses, and provide further crucial information that continues to be valuable in informing funding bids and consideration of possibilities arising from the council's national appeal to seek a suitable operator."