An anticipated Cabinet update on Bristol Arena has been withdrawn from the Cabinet agenda for 3 July following indications from the arena contractor partner and operators that they have significant new positions during public meetings last week.
A new date for discussion at Cabinet has not yet been confirmed as clarity on these positions is currently awaited. The Mayor requested this following comments made to the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Management Board by Buckingham Group and Arena Island Ltd last week.
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol said:
“I thank the scrutiny committee for their work. Although I am disappointed that the scrutiny report ended up focussing on a binary choice between Temple Island and Filton and missed the bigger social and economic questions around the potential developments of Temple Quarter, the process did throw up two interesting pieces of evidence. Firstly, Buckingham, our contractor partner for an arena on Temple Island, gave evidence to suggest a financial offer which they had never tabled previously. Their verbal evidence suggested they could build the arena substantially cheaper and at no risk to Bristol City Council. In addition, the arena operators said they could improve their offer further and I have to consider these key factors.
“We have written direct to Buckingham and are in contact with Arena Island Ltd and have asked them both to clarify their offers. The Buckingham offer is particularly substantial as this could remove tens of millions of pounds of public borrowing from the real cost of developing on Temple Island. I would be ignoring my responsibilities to the city if I didn’t drive the best deal for the people of Bristol.
“On the basis of these potential offers and on the assumption that the evidence given by Buckingham and Arena Island is sound, I have to pause the Cabinet process until those offers have been formally tabled and fully considered.
“This is a decision for the 50 year future of Bristol: for jobs, for economic growth and to maintain a vibrant city centre by delivering the best option. I must ensure all options have been appropriately developed and considered.
“Unlike some dogmatic loud voices who have pre-determined views and choose to ignore facts presented to them, I see this decision as one that must be evidence based. It must be set against a clear criteria that explains what we require for our money. This is how we ensure we make the best decision for Bristol.
“I remain committed to delivering an arena which our city needs, the city can afford, and which Bristolians can be proud of.”