F51 Folkestone – A Tale of Two Narratives
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The trust is governed by a trust deed which includes the charitable purposes that the trust will work within. As a charity, it operates tax-free and individuals can obtain tax relief on donations.
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With much fanfare and media attention, F51 – The World’s first Multi Storey Skatepark – owned by The Roger De Haan Charitable Trust (The Trust) and leased to the Shepway Sports Trust (SST), until 2066, opened on Friday 25 March 2022. F51 was meant to open in 2017, but was beset by delays and project cost issues. It was achieved without any public funding.
Media reports of F51 costing over £17m, don’t appear to concur with the reality of The Trust accounts, on the Charity Commission website.
On the 22 Sept, 2017, The Trust, registered at Strand House, Monks Horton, purchased the freehold of the land, for an unknown amount, on which the F51 Skatepark is built, according to land registry documents.
However, on the 6 October, 2016, a lease of the land and the F51 project by The Trust to SST, on a peppercorn rent, for fifty years was struck, according to land registry documents. SST is chaired by ‘Ming the Merciless‘, AKA Trevor Minter OBE. One of the other notable Trustees is Damian Collins MP.
In 2015, it was announced that F51 was to be built. It attracted attention from rapper MC Hammer (U Can’t Touch This) on Twitter. The original building was to be a six-floor multi-use urban sports centre including skate park, climbing and boxing, at a cost of £7m. The initial contractor in 2016, to build F51, was Ashford based Westridge Construction at a cost of £10 million. By July 2017, project costs rose to £14m and the building was scaled back by three floors.
Westridge Construction were replaced by Jenner’s by March 2018, and completion of F51 was delayed until summer 2021. At year end 2021 The Trust held assets of £16,046,000 and liabilities of £2.4m.
F51 finally opened last Friday, 25.3.22. The project costs are reported to be over £17 million, according to the BBC – Kentonline and others.
F51 total project costs, were then, according to media reports, £7m in 2015, rising to £10 million in 2016, then upwards to £14m, in 2017, then to £17m in 2022. If press reports are to be believed, total project costs have risen by 143%, between F51s conception in 2015, and birth in 2022.
The Trusts accounts tell a different story. According to the accounts for year ended 5th April 2017
The amount of £5.73 million shown as a donation to SST in the accounts for the year includes £4 million relating to a grant commitment made to SST during the year, the cost incurred by the Trust in acquiring the site [F51] and costs associated with the early stages of the project. The land acquired by the Trust has been let to SST on a long-term lease at a peppercorn rent.
The land registry leasehold to SST, by The Trust, confirms this.
By year ended 5th April, 2018, the accounts state:
The total project cost amounts to £11.9 million and completion is scheduled for summer 2019
By year ended 5th April 2019 the accounts state:
The trust has committed £10.5 million of funding to date to SST for the project which is scheduled for completion in summer 2020. Further costs are likely to be incurred by SST to complete construction. It is anticipated that the Trust will make a further commitment to cover those costs though, as at the date ofthis report, no additional funding has been formally committed, pending confirmation ofthe final costs to completion.
The accounts for year ended 5th April 2020 (two weeks after 1st lockdown) state:
The trust has committed £13 million of funding to SST for the project which is now scheduled for completion in summer 2021 which is later than planned. The delay arose from design related issues exacerbated by construction delays due to Covid-19 restrictions on site and related supply chain problems. As a consequence, further costs are likely to be incurred by SST to bring the project to completion. It is anticipated that the Trust will make a further commitment to cover those costs though, as at the date of
this report, no additional funding has been formally committed
And the latest set of accounts year ended 5th April 2021 state:
As reported in previous years, the Trust has entered into a funding agreement with SST to facilitate the construction of a multi-storey extreme sports building in the cenrte of Folkestone. The funding package comprises a charitable grant together with a long term loan on favourable terms.
The Trust has committed £13.1 million of funding to SST for the project which is now scheduled for completion in the latter part of 2021, somewhat later than planned. The delay arose from design related issues exacerbated by construction delays due to Covid19 restrictions on site and related supply chain problems. As a consequence, additional costs are being incurred by SST to bring the project to completion. The Trust has recently made a further commitment of £185,000 towards the cost of the project.
Between tax years 2019/20 and 20/21 there was additional funding of £100,000.
In 2017, total project costs were £5.73m, according to the accouunts. The last set of accounts year ended 5th April 2021, state £13.1m. This is a total project cost increase of 129%. The media figure of 143% total cost project increases, is 14% of what the accounts stated to year ended 5 April 2021.
Two different narratives, two different stories. Neither reconcile as yet. It will be the year ended 5 April 2022 accounts, which will show if a further £4m was spent on the project, up to it’s official opening on the 25.3.22.
The Shepway Vox Team
Journalism for the People NOT the Powerful
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