WORCESTER’S iconic Hive is coming under major financial pressure - with cash-strapped council chiefs desperately trying to “renegotiate” a 25-year funding plan.
Your Worcester News can today reveal how taxpayers are forking out £2.3m a year in subsidies towards the library facility, some of which is for an expensive PFI (Private Finance Initiative).
Behind-closed-doors talks are taking place to see if the deal can be made cheaper amid the shock cuts revealed on Wednesday.
A renegotiation could see the PFI made longer to offer some relief to the Conservative leadership, which is battling with County Hall’s worst ever financial backdrop.
Trish Haines, the chief executive, insists there will be “no panic and no crisis” and said the cuts will be made “in a sensible, measured way”.
The PFI deal is just 16 months old, and on the current timeline will come to an end in 2036.
A report obtained by your Worcester News says the council wants to secure “a more economical deal”, and focus on a “commercial approach” towards The Hive.
Other plans for saving cash at The Hive include licensing it for wedding functions and renting out rooms for company events.
That could include marketing it as an “archive destination”, where exhibitions can be held and renowned archivists can use it for lectures and other events.
Of the £2.3m, some goes towards the PFI and some the actual upkeep, although the authority will not reveal the full breakdown.
Councillor Adrian Hardman, the leader, said: “Like many other public authorities, the county council has less money to provide services and do the things that people have said are important to them.”
He said funding for libraries, museums and the arts, all of which are being slashed, form part of the “tough choices” the administration is looking to make.
The Hive was opened in July 2012 by the Queen and is one of Worcestershire’s big success stories, after being created in conjunction with the University of Worcester.
Since then the visitor numbers have smashed through the one million mark, offering combined public and university resources.