GREENWICH Council will have no access to a hospitality box it rents in the O2 this summer – despite paying almost £10,000 a month for it.
The Royal Borough leases the suite from O2-operator AEG and tries to recoup the costs through ticket sales, but with no public events for three months because of the Olympics, the council is left footing the bill for a facility it can’t use.
The council won’t even have access to its box during London 2012 itself, which is classed as a private hire of the venue and will see it temporarily renamed as the North Greenwich Arena.
Their five year lease agreement with AEG requires access to 100 public events a year.
A report presented to the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee last night noted:
“The Royal Borough may be required to meet suite lease payment for the period 10 June to 25 September 2012 without being able to generate income from ticket sales. This would represent a pressure of approximately £29k to the Council in 2012/13”
Chairman of the committee, Councillor Mick Hayes, told colleagues:
“It’s a bit rich that we’re expected to pay for the lease and will not have any access.”
The council first started renting the box in 2007, and after a one year pilot scheme it entered into a five year lease. Tickets to events are sold to Greenwich Card holders while some are given away to local charities, volunteers and schools. Others are raffled to raise funds for charities.
A review of the performance of the box over the past nine months showed that there was a £5,000 shortfall.
Council Assistant Chief Executive, Katrina Delaney, told councillors that the council is reducing the costs associated with the suite by no longer providing guests with a welcome drink and by no longer requiring a council staff member to be present to “host” guests in the box.
According to the review by council officers, local charities who benefitted from free tickets to events include Greenwich Toy Library, Demelza, the Metro Centre, HER Centre and Greenwich MIND.
Tickets were also provided to volunteers and members of sports clubs, and tickets to see Placido Domingo were given to “4 people whose wedding [sic] was disrupted by [a] fire alarm.”