Eden Project in government funding call

Eden Project The Eden Project is making staff cuts after a loss of nearly £2m in 2010/11

Cash-strapped tourist attraction the Eden Project is asking for an injection of funds from the government.

The Cornwall environmental centre has confirmed it is to ask for help from the Regional Growth Fund (RGF).

The money, reported to be £5 to £7m, is to help it through a "difficult" time and build a new HOW2 skills centre with Cornwall College.

Eden said the size of the application was being finalised for the deadline of 20 March.

Analysis

Some of the cash help given to Eden in recent years was given remarkably coyly.

I have discovered that, in 2008 and 2009, the Regional Development Agency (RDA) gave £6.8m to Eden without making any details public in its accounts or via a press release.

Eden themselves have not been secretive - they have alluded to this grant aid many times in the notes at the end of their press releases.

But the most the RDA have ever said seems to be a vague acknowledgement that the funding of Eden went on longer than first planned.

This is not a breach of the rules. The National Audit Office tells me there was simply no obligation on the RDAs to publicise grants of that type and amount.

The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said it had been "informally approached by the Eden Project" to support its application for national funds "to help them through the current difficult trading environment".

The LEP, which consists of local businesses and public sector bodies, said: "No decision has been taken by the board of the LEP."

The RGF is a £2.6bn fund operated by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in England from 2011 to 2016.

It supports projects and programmes that "lever private sector investment to create economic growth and sustainable employment".

Eden is currently making staff cuts to help it balance the books.

The group, which employs more than 500 staff at the attraction near St Blazey, recorded losses of £1.78m in 2010/11, partly blaming the floods of November 2010 which forced it to shut for a week and its ice rink to close for a month.

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