An artist's impression of the new Marine Lake Events Centre in Southport

Ambitious proposals for the new Marine Lake Events Centre in Southport face a crucial decision this autumn over £20million funding for the scheme. 

The spectacular new facility, which will be complemented by the UK’s first light, water and sound show in the Marine Lake, will be built on the site of the former Southport Theatre and Convention Centre, which closed in March 2020 with the building deemed no longer fit for purpose. 

The new Marine Lake Events Centre in its place is forecast to cost a total of £73million to build, with £33.3million already committed by the Government’s Town Deal initiative. 

Sefton Council, which is leading the delivery of its biggest ever project, is now eager to secure a £20million commitment from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority. 

The LCRCA has delivered £2.3million to Sefton to support pre-development work. 

A decision on releasing the final £17.7million funding needed for the project to progress will be made at a Combined Authority board meeting in October. 

Sefton Council aims to supplement the funding through nearly £20million in prudential borrowing, which it is due to rubber stamp at its Cabinet meeting this Thursday (1st September). 

The local authority is also pursuing further funding from Arts Council England, among other sources. 

Sefton Council has submitted a new Expression of Interest for Round 3 of The Cultural Development Fund, with full bids invited from 19th September. 

The new Marine Lake Events Centre in Southport is forecast to attract 515,000 additional visitors every year, creating 288 new jobs and creating nearly 60,000 overnight stays from conferences and events.

In his report to councillors, Sefton Council Executive Director (Place) Stephen Watson said: “Conversations have continued with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority with regards to extra funding, to date this has not been successful due to the Southport Investment Fund being fully committed. The CA are a key funding partner and have further committed to continue to work with the council to secure sources of funding if they become available later. 

“The council will therefore have to fund the remaining gap of £19.7million and discussions will be held with the council’s Treasury Management Advisor as to the most appropriate basis to source this funding with any approval being in accordance with the Councils Treasury Management Strategy and Financial Procedure Rules. 

“The SIF ask of £17.7million (excluding the £2.3million pre-development funds) will go to the CA External Investment Panel on 22nd September and CA Board approval on 14th October.

“After having further discussions with Arts Council England after an unsuccessful bid of funding, a new Expression of Interest has been submitted for Round 3 of The Cultural Development Fund, full bids will be invited from the 19th of September.”

Following on from Cabinet approval the Business Case and supporting information for the Marine Lake Events Centre in Southport has been submitted to the Government.

It is hoped that this will be approved within 12 weeks to allow funding release from the Town Deal this December. 

Earlier this month, Sefton Council named ASM Global, the world’s leading venue management company and producer of live experiences as the preferred operating partner for the new facility.

Do you have a story for Stand Up For Southport? Please message Andrew Brown via Facebook here or email me at: mediaandrewbrown@gmail.com

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