Public still shelling out for £32m sporting venue

TAXPAYERS are forking out thousands on insurance, cleaning and service charges for Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium.

Doncaster Council admitted it was paying the costs on the £32 million venue - despite concerns from councillors that the cash should pay for services facing the axe because of recent Government cuts.

The news has prompted more calls to sell off the Keepmoat.

It has been revealed the council is stumping up insurance costs of around £75,000 a year for the venue.

In addition, the authority admitted it has stopped service charges, paid by other organisations at Doncaster Lakeside, and cut cleaning and refuse costs - even though the Keepmoat now also hosts a major car boot sale.

It has slashed the rates the venue pays, even though it is home to Doncaster Rovers Football Club.

The council also confirmed it wrote off debts from the former Doncaster rugby league club after it went into administration.

And it paid £75,000 maintenance bills at the site in a one-off payment two years ago.

Coun Paul Coddington, leader of the Liberal Democrat group in Doncaster, has again insisted taxpayers should not have to bankroll the stadium.

He said: “I’m a Doncaster Rovers fan and want nothing more than to see them doing well and playing in a good stadium. But I don’t see the stadium as a community facility in the same way as places like The Dome.

“It appears to be the council running a facility for a business - Doncaster Rovers. Any other business would not expect that sort of level of support.

“Now we face major cuts, we should put the money the stadium costs us into frontline services. It is time to sell and stop losing money.”

Doncaster Council pays the insurance because it is the stadium site freeholder.

It ended service charges after Keepmoat bosses argued no other leisure facility paid one. After a council investigation it was agreed the charge should never have been levied.

The authority said the rates for the stadium were cut as the original rateable value had been set as if the Stadium Management Company which runs it was the football club.

Simon Wiles, the council’s director of finance, said: “We recognise concerns about how much the stadium costs the council and are looking at options for its future.”

Rovers chairman John Ryan said it was not good for ratepayers if the stadium was losing money.

Last month the Free Press revealed the council was in talks with Doncaster Rovers about selling the Keepmoat.

Stadium Management Company is asking for voluntary redundancies.