The Tall Ships Briefing yesterday morning was attended by half a dozen Councilors. The evening session had a few more there but it was interesting to chat to one of the evening attendees to compare notes.
One thing that wasn't discussed in the evening session was the current £1.2 Million pound budget shortfall. Currently the budget for the event is £3.2 Million pounds. This is being covered by £800K from Hartlepool Council, £775K from One North East, £350K from Private sponsorship and £200K (estimate) from merchandise sales. Add that up and it comes up about a Million Pounds short. Also the vast majority of the £350K Private funding is still to be found and of course merchandising sales are also only estimates.
However, all is not lost. There is a cunning plan! The 1,000,000 visitors are estimated to be coming in 60,000 cars each day, all of which will need somewhere to park. So the plan is to charge £10 per car. This will give £600K a day income so for the four days of the event there should be £2.4Million come in from car parking charges. Wonderful, the event is going to make a profit! No worries. Even at only 500,000 visitors and only 30,000 cars a day we should still cover the funding black hole.
Plans are also in place in case it rains to ensure that the event is not a wash out. These plans appear to be putting up tents for the visitors to be able to take shelter. These same tents of course service dual duty to protect people from the sun should it be a scorcher!
Plans to view the Tall Ships Parade of Sail from Old Cemetery Road might need looking at and the old Steetly Site will have to be tidied up. The organisers are also appealing to residents of the town to stay at home as much as possible during the four days, or at least use their cars as little as possible, this will keep the roads free for the event traffic.
Overall a very upbeat presentation and the few Councilors there agreed that we all wanted the event to be a triumph for Hartlepool and to put us on the map. There will unfortunately be no permanent legacy of buildings left by the event as there is "no capital spend" for the race. What this means to you and I is that everything will be in tents or in the case of the toilets i Port-a-loos. My main concern however was the undeniable face that currently Hartlepool Council is underwriting a £3.2 Million Project with less than half that amount firmly committed. If the private sponsors don't come in and the £10 fee per car doesn't cover the hole then it does appear it will be Hartlepool Council that is picking up the bill.