Silverstone museum loan repayments have exposed ‘weaknesses’ in councils‘ due diligence processes with one local authority which loaned £2 million to the museum not expecting all of its money back until 2040.
Several councils and a local enterprise partnership loaned millions of pounds to the Silverstone Interactive Museum, but none of them has yet been fully repaid.
Buckinghamshire Council said it expects to be typically repaid in instalments of £9,259 a month after the former Aylesbury Vale District Council, which was dissolved in local government reorganisation in 2020, agreed to loan the £2 million in September 2016.
At the start of this month, it had received £9,259 back, in line with an agreed payment reschedule. It expects the last repayment to be made by December 2040.
The former South Northamptonshire Council (SNC), which is now part of West Northamptonshire Council (WNC), loaned £3 million. It received £488,000 of that back in May 2022.
WNC said in a freedom of information request that it expected six further annual repayments of £488,000 until 2028. In 2018, auditors found there were “weaknesses” in SNC’s due diligence before it agreed the loan.
Ernst & Young found the authority carried out “no assessment of [the museum’s] ability to repay the loan or of the risk of the loan not being repaid”.
South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) said it agreed to its £1 million loan to the museum in November 2016, ahead of it being signed in May 2017.
It received £171,510 back in December 2022. As of last month, it was “in the process of agreeing a detailed repayment schedule” with the museum.
Cherwell District Council said it made a £1 million loan in March 2019 and also paid £10,000 in legal fees. It has received no repayments. It expects the loan to be fully repaid in March 2024.
The museum was approached to comment. It received a £9.1 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant in 2016, £572,000 from the Culture Recovery Fund in 2020 and another £710,000 in emergency funding from the Government in September 2021.
The Silverstone Interactive Museum is a 2.5-hour visitor attraction journey through the past, present and future of British motorsport run by Silverstone Heritage Ltd, a Community Benefit Society with a charitable mission. It opened its doors to visitors in October 2019.
Visitors can climb into a racing car, learn to be a commentator and have a go at building a racing bike while incredible stories from the sport and its history come to life around them in a restored WW2 RAF Hangar.
An opening ceremony featuring Prince Harry and Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton opened the new museum in March 2020, just before the COVID lockdown.