District council to debate £105,000 loan to save Exmouth Museum

Exmouth Museum could be saved by a £105,000 loan taken out by the district council on its behalf.

The home of the history-filled hub in Sheppards Row is set to go on the open market unless its current occupant can find the six-figure sum.

Registered charity The Museum Society of Exmouth leases the premises from South West Water (SWW) and has long been campaigning to raise the cash.

East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) cabinet will next month consider a proposal for the authority to borrow the funds from the Government – then lend them to the museum.

The ‘back-to-back loan’ move is the only way the council can financially support the heritage-rich attraction, say officers.

A report to cabinet members details how the museum has raised £45,000 of the £150,000 purchase price of the building.

Its chairman of trustees, Councillor Steve Gazzard, has contacted EDDC bosses to ask for help in meeting the purchase price.

Exmouth Museum

A glimpse inside Exmouth Museum.

The council’s strategic lead for finance says: “An option discussed with Cllr Gazzard, subject to approval, was that there might be a possibility of loan from the council to meet up to the current shortfall in funding of £105,000.

“This would be subject to site valuation to ensure appropriate security can be offered in the building and assurance that the museum can meet annual interest and principle repayments of such a loan.

“The council would borrow monies from the Public Works Loan Board and enter into a back-to-back agreement with the museum at the fixed interest rate obtained.

“Currently this would be 1.71 per cent, resulting in a required annual payment from the museum of £5,180 (including interest and principle).

“The museum would need to consider any other costs involved in terms of legal and purchase fees and ongoing maintenance and ownership costs relating to the building.

“The council is keen to support Exmouth Museum, but there is no grant funding available.

“The council could at no cost to itself loan the museum the balance of funds required to purchase the building as long as repayment sums are met by the charity.”

The Public Works Loan Board is a statutory body operating within the HM Treasury. Its function is to lend money from to local authorities and to collect the repayments.

It is recommended that EDDC’s chief executive, leader and finance portfolio holder are given authority to issue the loan to Exmouth Museum, subject to a property valuation and assurances it can meet the annual loan payment.

Cabinet members will consider the proposal on Wednesday, October 2.

Exmouth Museum

Inside Exmouth Museum.

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