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Mayor: it's "irresponsible nonsense to talk of a 'black hole'"

George Ferguson says it's "irresponsible nonsense to talk of a 'black hole' Credit: Rod Minchin/PA

Questions have been raised over a thirteen million pound funding black hole for Bristol's arena project.

The Liberal Democrat Bristol City Councillor Tim Kent says the city's mayor, who is behind the scheme, hasn't given enough information on how the twelve thousand seater Arena will be financed. George Ferguson says it's "irresponsible nonsense to talk of a 'black hole' and project is a long term investment.

The £90 million plus project budget for the arena is based on a business case report but, as with all large projects, it is inevitable that there will be variances as we test some of the assumptions made in that report. The budget, agreed at Cabinet, identified £53 million from the City Deal Economic Development Fund and £38 million to come back to the council from rental and other related income.

As we move forward, of course some of the initial predictions for elements of that £38 million income will vary. This may result in the arena breaking-even earlier or later than predicted. However it must be understood that this is a long term investment that will break-even over the 25 year life of the project and will deliver millions of pounds of investment to the city region. It is irresponsible nonsense to talk of a 'black hole'.

The arena has been a long held aspiration for the city that we are now well on the way to delivering. Shortlisting teams for the design competition will start next week and, crucially, we are due to appoint an operator by the end of the year. No-one has ever pretended that this would be easy but it is a priority for Bristol and the region and the report to scrutiny shows that we are fully aware of the challenges. We are taking the necessary steps to address any potential gaps in funding whilst remaining completely committed to delivering this vitally important venue, that is a major catalyst for the regeneration of the enterprise zone and the wider city region.

– George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol


Help for Heroes speak out against fraudster

Help for Heroes say the public have been shocked by the case of Christopher Copeland from mid-Devon, who has been jailed for stealing £300,000 through fake charity collections.

Copeland deceived the public into thinking they were making donations which would help our wounded. Instead he was stealing from them and using the money for his own personal gain through a deceptive web of fraud which took detectives three years to untangle. We have been astonished by the response of the public. Many of those defrauded by him have contacted us to express shock that someone would use organised and criminal tactics to prevent money supporting the wounded.

– Jo Brookes, Income Protection Officer at Help for Heroes

Man gets four and a half years for defrauding charity

Christopher Copeland sentenced to four and a half years Credit: ITV West Country

A man who gathered £300,000 in donations for Wiltshire charity Help For Heroes and kept the money for himself has been sentenced to four and a half years in prison.

52 year old Christopher Copeland from mid-Devon admitted fraud and money laundering at Exeter Crown Court.

He had a team of staff, who believed they were raising money for charity legitimately, who took old military vehicles, branded with the Help for Heroes logo, to supermarkets and shopping centres all over the country. The money raised never reached the charity but was instead used to subsidise Mr Copeland's own business which was in financial difficulty and has since gone into liquidation.

Help for Heroes 'collector' to be sentenced

Christopher Copeland has admitted fraud of £300,000. Credit: Claire Hayhurst/PA Wire

A man is due to be sentenced today after defrauding the Wiltshire based charity Help for Heroes out of hundreds of thousands of pounds. Christopher Copeland from Devon admitted taking £300,000 over an eighteen month period. He's been told by the judge that he faces a 'lengthy' jail sentence.

Somerset Council salary spend 'outrageous'

The Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles has accused Somerset County Council of "an outrageous use of public money".

The council has been criticised for spending nearly a third of a million pounds in salary and agency fees to hire its Director of Social Services, Peter Lewis, via a private company.

David Heath MP raised the issue in Parliament today.


Bristol receives £6m to combat social isolation

Bristol is to receive a £6 million grant from the National Lottery to help combat social isolation amongst older people.

The money will help around 12,000 elderly people in the city. The aim is to improve the physical and mental health of Bristol's elderly population. Bristol-based Aardman animations will help by making a short film to help change the peception of loneliness.

Mark Baker, the Chief Executive of Age UK Bristol, says they want older people to be involved in the project.

Bristol financial firm announces record year

Operating profits at Hargreaves Lansdown have increased by 8% to £208 million in the past year Credit: ITV West

It's been a record year for Bristol firm Hargreaves Lansdown.

The investment company, which began life in a bedroom in Clifton in 1981, now looks after £46.9 billion of other people's money - a 14% rise on last year.

It also took on a record-breaking 144,000 new customers.

Ian Gorman, Chief Executive of Hargreaves Lansdown Credit: © Hargreaves Lansdown Plc

The firm's Chief Executive says the expansion comes despite having to cope with major regulatory changes.

During the year we have continued to expand and improve the services we provide to our clients whilst also dealing with major regulatory change.

Hargreaves Lansdown has not only retained but furthered its market leading position.

Our clients have entrusted a further £6.4 billion to us such that we now administer £46.9 billion of assets. We have also welcomed 144,000 new clients during the year, with clients now totalling 652,000.

This has led to an 8% increase in net revenues and 7% growth in profits. We thank our diligent staff for their efforts and our clients for their continued loyalty.

Hargreaves Lansdown will again pay its corporate taxes in full in the UK, and we shall continue to seek to be a role model for how financial services companies deliver a great service, reputable behaviour and profitability in harmony with the UK public.

– Ian Gorman, Chief Executive, Hargreaves Lansdown
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