‘It’s not true’: Cardiff Council denies claim that AMG deal for St David’s Hall lease has been completed

The Council says that finalising the deal without taking a recommendation to Cabinet “would be unlawful”

CARDIFF Council has stated that the deal for St David’s Hall to be leased by a private company has not been completed.

The emotive issue – which could see the National Concert Hall of Wales run by Academy Music Group (AMG) – has been met with opposition via petition and protest.

On Sunday, just hours after the Council closed its budget consultation survey, a social media post claimed that a final agreement to lease St David’s Hall to AMG had been signed.

The Twitter post was by Ben Herrington – an employee at St David’s Hall and the organiser of a petition against the deal which has almost 22,000 signatures.

When The Cardiffian called the Council to fact check the tweet they said: “The claim that Cardiff Council has agreed, approved or signed the handover of St David’s Hall to AGM is not true.

“In fact, doing what is claimed without concluding the VEAT process and without taking a recommendation to Cabinet for it to decide, along with the results of the public consultation on the budget for consideration, would be unlawful.”

A VEAT (voluntary ex ante transparency) notice is a document that informs market competitors of the value, recipient and reasoning behind a closed contract. This must be published at least 10 days before a contract is concluded.

As was announced last year, the Council does have an agreement in principle with AMG. However, the deal is not yet final and is subject to several conditions – including a further cabinet report and analysis of the recent budget consultation survey.

The controversial move to lease the building comes as the Council are being asked to fill a £23.5m budget gap for financial year 23/24.

Thanks to a larger-than-expected settlement from the Welsh Government, this shortfall is some £30m smaller than was anticipated. However, some cuts to services and sales of assets still appear to be unavoidable.

The Council is arguing that, in their current situation, they do not have the money to invest in a venue that already requires an annual subsidy of around £700,000. By leasing the building to AMG, they simultaneously save money on the subsidy and secure investment for the future of the building.

Though, there are significant concerns about the impact that the handover could have on the identity of the building. Where its current subsidised status allows St David’s Hall to host a variety of unique, Welsh talent, a for-profit arena may sacrifice this in pursuit of revenue.

The proposal – along with changes to the Museum of Cardiff, library opening times and the price of school meals – is due to be debated at Cardiff Council’s budget meeting on March 9.