£5M centre’s loan plea to council

King's Lynn Innovation Centre (KLIC) Launch of new Enterprise Zone
GV of the KLIC Building King's Lynn ANL-160104-174405009
King's Lynn Innovation Centre (KLIC) Launch of new Enterprise Zone GV of the KLIC Building King's Lynn ANL-160104-174405009
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Council chiefs have been asked to provide a loan to the King’s Lynn Innovation Centre (KLIC), just three months after the £5 million complex was officially opened.

The issue was debated in private session during a special West Norfolk Council cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

The authority has refused to say how much has been requested or whether the issue will be debated by any other council bodies, though it maintains the move will help to expand use of the site.

Meanwhile, the company running the site has denied any suggestion of financial difficulties.

Council deputy leader Alistair Beales said yesterday: “Norfolk and Waveney Enterprise Services (NWES, the operators of the centre) have requested a loan from the borough council to mitigate the cashflow implications of delayed payment of grant monies from the European Development Fund.

“The loan will be secured on the Kings Lynn Innovation Centre building, will outperform the average return of council investments and will be repaid by November 30, 2018.”

However, the authority declined to say how much had been requested, saying the details would be published when the money had been spent. It says the same principle applies to a confidential property purchase which is only reported once it has been completed.

It added that details of any further debates would be released when minutes of the meeting are published.

The council was also asked whether Britain’s vote to leave the European Union earlier this year could be a factor in the delay, but said that would have to be referred to NWES.

However, NWES has denied having cashflow concerns, though it admits the Brexit vote has presented challenges.

Its spokesman said: “The information about there being a cash flow problem with KLIC is incorrect. The building has been completed, fitted out and operated to a high standard.

“All partners (the LEP, BCKLWN and Nwes) have contributed exactly what was required to complete the building as per the original projections. This includes a capital injection of £500,000 from Nwes.

“KLIC is already 21 per cent full and occupancy is on profile with many potential tenants in negotiations

“The delay in implementing ERDF contracts following Brexit has been a challenge but does not affect the operation of Nwes or KLIC at all.”

The centre, on Nar Ouse Way, was formally opened in June and hailed at the time as a “magnet” for economic growth in the area.

Mr Beales said: “Granting this loan will help NWES support and grow the businesses already based at KLIC as well as attract new tenants.

“The completion of the KLIC building and the setting up of an enterprise zone has already prompted new business enquiries that the council hopes will lead to further development and business expansion.”

A decision notice published after the meeting added: “The council’s Treasury Management Strategy allows alternative options for investment to be considered where opportunities become available as an alternative to traditional investments subject to a report to Cabinet.”

The document also revealed that Richard Blunt, the council’s portfolio holder for development, had been appointed as its representative on the KLIC project steering group.