Chief executive Steve Beynon.
THERE is no hidden agenda to close Newport’s Riverside Centre and turn it into offices, the chief executive of the Isle of Wight Council has told councillors.
In an e-mail to all members of the authority, Steve Beynon said he hoped to correct some of the "misapprehensions and untruths" and assure members over the future use of the centre for people with disabilities.
He revealed lengthy mediation with the Riverside Trust had resulted in agreement to repay £150,000 of public money the centre acknowledged was owed to the local authority and to hand the lease back to the Isle of Wight Council.
Mr Beynon appealed to councillors not to publicise the e-mail.
In the e-mail, which was leaked to the County Press, he said: "We have sought to keep this issue 'in house’, in accordance with the wishes of the trustees, with whom we continue to work positively.
"However, as others outside of this process have been vocal in their criticisms of the council, I do think it necessary to set out the current position."
Mr Beynon said the council’s only wish was for the centre to be used — as intended — as a community resource, mainly for disabled people and their carers, in accordance with the current lease.
He added: "We do not intend to sell the building or to use it for purposes unrelated to those I have just mentioned."
Mr Beynon said despite claims to the contrary, there was no doubt the Isle of Wight Council owned the building or that trustees agreed to pay rent to the council just before the new administration took over in 2005.
"The trust also acknowledges the current model is not sustainable, even with the income they generate by hiring out and sub-letting the centre for purposes unrelated to the centre’s core activity," he said.