Pembrokeshire Council’s shares in Bluestone holiday park questioned
Bruce Sinclair, local democracy reporter
Questions about Pembrokeshire Council’s shares in Bluestone holiday park will be heard at a full council meeting later this week.
The value of Pembrokeshire council-owned shares in the Bluestone holiday park near Narberth – exchanged for £1.9m in loans – has previously been disputed, with claims they are worth just £70,000, and counter-claims placing them at £1.3m.
The shares were taken up by the council’s previous administration more than a decade ago. The value placed on the shares has since been disputed.
In response to a question by Councillor Alan Dennison at a meeting in May, Cabinet Member for corporate Finance Cllr Alec Cormack said the value of the shares amounted to under £70,000, and had paid out £19,000 in dividends over the last five years, with the highest dividend in a single year amounting to £5,250, in 2019-20.
Cllr Dennison had asked: “Given the council’s previous investment in Bluestone of a £1.9 million secured loan, now converted into shares, can the Cabinet member advise what return on investment per annum has been received over the last five years in share dividends or any other form of income?”
At a special leadership challenge meeting to Council Leader David Simpson, leadership hopeful Councillor Huw Murphy said all councillors had received an email from the owners of Bluestone, valuing the shares at £1.3m.
Details of the email appearing to contradict the earlier figures have not been made public.
At the forthcoming 12 October county council meeting, Cllr Dennison will ask two pre-submitted questions relating to the Bluestone shares.
The first asks: “In his email response to Mr William McNamara [Bluestone CEO], on May 17, the Deputy Leader [Cllr Paul Miller] stated: ‘It’s unfortunate that recent questions to council have generated a degree of negative publicity for you but it is incumbent upon us to respond openly and honestly, in the public domain, to questions raised by elected councillors’.
“The only question submitted referred to the share dividends received over the last five years.
“Can the Deputy Leader advise which part of this question he believes warranted such negative publicity against Bluestone?”
Cllr Dennison will also ask a second related question.
“Did the Leader of the Council [Cllr David Simpson] approve the response of the Cabinet Member for Finance [Cllr Alec Cormack] to the question submitted by myself regarding the return to date over the last five years of the Bluestone shares held by this council, at the full council meeting held on May 11 and, if so, will he comment on the response from the CEO [of Bluestone] which appears to contradict the Cabinet member’s response?”
Both questions will be heard at the October 12 meeting.
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