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Cardiff council loses PS1.1m on Dr Who display.

Byline: Laura Clements newsdesk@walesonline.co.uk

CLOSURE of the popular Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff Bay has cost Cardiff council more than PS1.1m.

The attraction, which opened in July 2012 in partnership with BBC Worldwide, controversially closed last September.

It has now emerged that the departure of BBC Worldwide meant PS1.147m was left outstanding on a loan because revenue targets were not met by the attraction. This amount will now have to be met by taxpayers.

Cardiff council funded a loan to BBC Worldwide from the Welsh Government's Invest to Save Fund. This initiative provides financial support to public service organisations across Wales.

The council had planned to pay the money back using income generated from ticket sales.

But the hole in funds shows how much the council overestimated the amount of money the exhibition would bring in over five years. The council still has to repay the Welsh Government loan and will now have to resort to borrowing more money to close the gap.

Adrian Robson, councillor for Rhiwbina and leader of the Conservative opposition said: "I still don't know how we managed to lose over a million pounds on Dr Who."

A Cardiff council spokesman said: "The council subsidised the Dr Who Experience - but this was no longer sustainable as the Dr Who Experience, which was operated by BBC Worldwide, didn't meet the financial targets that BBC Worldwide set out in their business model. Any further information on the money they generated, their business model or the success of the Experience would have to be asked to BBC Worldwide."

In a Cardiff council cabinet meeting last Thursday, cabinet member for investment and development Russell Goodway said that the visitor attraction was another example of a bad business decision.

He said a lack of foresight had led to a "catalogue of errors" - including the writing off of PS4.4m loaned to Glamorgan Cricket Club in 2015.

The Dr Who Experience is on land owned by the Welsh Government, which Cardiff council leased to BBC Worldwide for an agreed five years.

Council plans for the former exhibition site remain vague.

The last statement from the council was made by Mr Goodway who said: "In terms of the former Doctor Who Exhibition building in Cardiff Bay, discussions are ongoing with both Igloo, the land owners, and Welsh Government, with a view to agreeing an extension of the lease arrangements following the expiry of the original five-year lease.

"If a new lease can be secured, there are a number of potential leisure-based uses for the building that the administration will consider."

Ever since it closed, there have been rumours that the Dr Who Experience would be moved, possibly to Manchester.

A spokesman for BBC Worldwide today confirmed that there are no current plans for the Dr Who exhibition to be relocated elsewhere in the UK.

A family ticket for the Doctor Who attraction was priced at PS49, which increased to PS82 with a merchandise pack. BBC Worldwide have not continued to run the attraction, as it didn't meet the financial targets set out in their business model.

The latest published accounts for BBC Worldwide show that the company made PS62.4m profit during 2015/16. BBC Worldwide could not confirm how much money the Dr Who Experience in Cardiff generated.

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The Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff Bay closed in September
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 21, 2018
Words:563
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