Row over £1.9m bill for Clipper

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Derry City Council and the Culture Company are at loggerheads over who pays for the city’s Clipper entry, the ‘Journal’ can reveal.

The council has confirmed up to £1.2m of the £3.8m committed by the local authority for the 2013 celebrations will now go towards the cost of the city’s entry in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race - put at £1.9 m.

However, the Culture Company has denied any responsibility for meeting the cost of the city’s ‘Derry~Londonderry’ entry. It’s understood that behind the scenes, relations between the two bodies have become strained as the Culture Company stands to lose the £1.2m from its budget.

Martin Bradley, chair of Culture Company, told ‘Journal’: “Culture Company does not fund Clipper and has never done so. This is entirely a matter for Derry City Council.”

But the council said yesterday that it will provide up to a maximum of £1.2m “in accordance with the bid proposal that secured City of Culture 2013, where Clipper was included as the major lead in event in 2012”.

Council Chief Executive Sharon O’Connor said: “Currently £1.2m. of the Council’s commitment for 2013 has underwritten the ten month promotional programme and the fleet hosting event. It is anticipated this underwriting cost will reduce as the final event costs are confirmed and additional sponsorship is secured.”

The rest of cost of the Derry’s Clipper involvement is to be covered by £165,000 from Ilex and DCAL, with an expected £510,000 through agreements and letters of offer from government departments this month. The commitment from the private sector, which was initially projected between £200k and £400k, currently stands at just £35k. Ms O’Connor said “it is expected this will increase through sponsorship packages”.

Ms O’Connor added that the projected return on investment for Derry’s Clipper entry would be £5m. She added: “Clipper 11-12 provides a unique opportunity for the city to raise its international profile during 2012 and to set out the compelling reasons why the city and Northern Ireland is open for business.”

The rationale for participating in the race and hosting the Clipper fleet was to achieve international profile of the city ahead of UK City of Culture 2013 and secure an international showcase event as part of NI 2012.”