Alnwick Garden's £8.5m council loan suspended

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The trust which runs Alnwick Garden wants to build a new play area

A plan to lend £8.5m of council money to a charity which runs a tourist attraction has been suspended.

Northumberland County Council said the proposed loan to Alnwick Garden, which was set to be discussed by councillors, should be re-assessed before a decision is made.

The trust behind the garden, which sits next to Alnwick Castle, want to build a new play area.

Several councillors have criticised giving public money to the scheme.

Image caption,
Councillors had been discussing the loan as part of a meeting about the budget

The garden, which was created by the Duchess of Northumberland, is run by a charitable trust.

Richard Dodd, Conservative councillor for Ponteland North, said "people are unhappy with taxpayers' money" going into the project and that the garden should "stand on its own".

He said: "There has been very little scrutiny of this loan."

Image caption,
The garden was created by the Duchess of Northumberland

A council spokesman said the proposed loan will undergo a "detailed review" by the authority's risk appraisal panel.

Labour council leader Grant Davey has previously said the loan would be good for jobs and the local economy.

Alnwick Garden CEO Mark Brassell has previously said the play area would be "an international attraction to the UK and our region, bringing tourism, jobs, significant secondary spend and a measurable boost to the local economy".

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