Baltic Creative CIC will NOT operate the £1.5m Enterprise Arcade tech hub in Southport despite Sefton Council earlier naming it as the preferred operator. Tony McDonough reports
Sefton Council has shelved plan for its new £1.5m Enterprise Arcade in Southport to be operated by Liverpool-based Baltic Creative CIC.
In July last year, the council named Liverpool-based Baltic Creative as its preferred operator for the facility that will occupy almost 10,000 sq ft of space in Crown Buildings in Eastbank Street. It secured planning consent in January.
Funded by Town Deal cash, the Enterprise Arcade will be a Southport’s first digital incubator space for start-up businesses and entrepreneurs. It will provide accommodation for digital and creative start-ups and scale-up ventures.
Baltic Creative CIC was seen as the ideal operator for the site. Over the past decade or so it has played a key role in transforming the once-decaying Baltic Triangle district of Liverpool into one of the UK’s fastest-growing digital and creative hubs.
However, in a report being presented to Sefton Council’s Cabinet this week recommends the authority manages the facility directly rather than outsourcing to an external operating partner.
It also asks the cabinet to approve an initial £224,000 for development work at the Grade II-listed Crown Buildings to begin later this year. This will include work on the building’s structure as well as the location of IT provision and connections.
Procurement for the construction works will be led by the council’s executive director of place, Stephen Watson. This will be in consultation with Cllr Paulette Lappin, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Regulatory, Compliance and Corporate Services.
Cllr Marion Atkinson, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Skills, and Member of the Southport Town Deal board, said the Enterprise Arcade will be a “catalyst for creating a new digital eco-system in Southport town centre”.
She added: “Locating the new Enterprise Arcade in the Crown Buildings will enable us to breathe new life into currently unused town centre buildings.
“And, by managing the project in-house, we can ensure it delivers best value for Southport, its economy and its young entrepreneurs, in line with the Town Deal Funding objectives.”
The report says that the Council will aim to ensure that the company contracted to construct the scheme and the Enterprise Arcade’s eventual partners and tenants are signed up to its Sefton Caring Business Charter.
Charter signatories are committed to support employment, apprenticeship, training, mentoring, work experience and other opportunities for care experienced young people in Sefton.
Scheme architects, K2 Architects are already signed up and are delivering support to care experienced young people. Local schools and colleges will also be key project partners.”