Steve Beynon on changes to Riverside booking process

Steve Beynon responded to our inquries about new restrictions on bookings at the Riverside Centre, but important questions still remain unanswered

Before publishing the article ‘Riverside Centre: Has council chief been personally vetting bookings? If so, why?‘ last Wednesday, we wrote to Steve Beynon find out what level of involvement he had had with bookings at Riverside.

Below is the email back and forth we had with him.

Quick summary – IWC claims to be in “positive discussions” with Riverside Centre Limited and that it’s been agreed that the building lease says it should only be used for the disabled. The council can’t vary these terms. New bookings have to comply with the terms. Existing ones can continue. Things may change in the New Year.

A couple of questions remain unanswered, like – Previously there haven’t been problems with these bookings, so what’s changed?

Steve didn’t dispute that he was personally involved with the selection/rejection of those wanting to book. The question of if that was best use of his time remained unanswered, despite being asked more than once.

Here are the details of the communications we had over it.

The following was sent to Steve –

Understand that you or Mr Burbage are personally approving each booking made at the Riverside Centre.

Couple of questions – 1) Is this the case; 2) How long has it been happening; 3) Why is it happening?; 4) Aren’t they independent?; 5) Is that really best use of your time?

and this reply was received the next morning (Thursday) from the council’s press office.

As widely reported, the council as owner of the Riverside Centre has been discussing the centre’s current and future running with the Riverside Centre Limited, which leases the building.

As part of these positive discussions, we have agreed that in the short term at least, the use of the building should only be in accordance with the current lease which says the centre should be used solely as a multi-purpose centre for the disabled.

As landlord, the council cannot authorise variations from that lease, however well intentioned those variations are.

While applying the terms of the original lease in respect of new bookings, all existing bookings are being honoured and no booked functions have been cancelled.

In the New Year, we will be consulting upon how a new lease could both enable the centre to provide the amenities for which it was intended and also host other activities in support of this core aim.

This was then sent to Steve

If what is below is correct, why is it just being implemented now? It’s widely-known that the Riverside has been taking booking from all sorts of organisations for years. What has changed?

He replied

As this is a matter jointly with Riverside Centre limited a press release agreed from both sides was appropriate rather than individual comment.
Request for information on such matters would normally be routed through the media team as other media outlets do as a matter of course. Both sides have agreed to extended mediation process to cover lease issues so there is no outcome to report at this stage.

This was then sent to Steve

Steve – As you haven’t disputed that you’re personally involved with the selection/rejection of who are allowed to book rooms at the Riverside, would you mind answering one of our original questions – Is that really best use of your valuable time?

Same for the other questions that escaped being answered – The response from IWC said, “As landlord, the council cannot authorise variations from that lease, however well intentioned those variations are.” If this is correct, why is it just being implemented now? It’s widely-known that the Riverside has been taking bookings from all sorts of organisations for years. What has changed?

Steve’s final reply

As I previously stated we are continuing with the mediation process and so detailed comments will not be made while this process is in train.

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Monday, 19th November, 2012 1:35pm



Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News, Top story

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Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.


  1. Renegotiate the lease?rent rise me thinks he doth mean he is just trying to get more money from disabled people they are a easy target for Mr Benyon and the boy blunder.Also with time to vet bookings maybe he might find time sweep the streets?

  2. Lease conditions can be varied with the agreement of both landlord and tenant.

    So the statement “As landlord, the council cannot authorise variations from that lease, however well intentioned those variations are.” is being economical with the truth.

  3. Black Dog

    19.Nov.2012 5:54pm

    Clearly there is an hidden agenda and one must suppose the location of our MP’s offices there has nothing to do with it???

    Consider the reason for the council disposing of their responsibility – Running at a loss. Now that there is a very real possibility that building can actually turn a profit in comes Beynon WHY???.

    What the Bl##dy Hell is the Chief Executive of the council doing vetting all the bookings????

    Why does the council, through Beynon, consider this is worth his personal attention??

    I SMELL A BIG FAT RAT (Pugh???)

  4. Barney McGrew

    19.Nov.2012 11:46pm

    The problem is that “johnny come lately” Council Officers have no idea of the history and unique nature of Riverside Centre.It was originally envisaged as a centre where able and disabled people could come together thereby enabling those with disabilities to better integrate into mainstream life of their community and to aid able bodies to better understand those of their community less abled and to de-stygmatise disabilities.

    The actions of this council have managed to put back the cause of integration 30 years – well done you myopic bunch of lame brains.

  5. all very interesting if the building is to be used for the disabled then any income can be for disabled use.

    if the building is to be used by disabled people well no more said,

    there is clearly a hidden agenda, well so well hidden we the rate payer cant find it, but it is there as sure as eggs are eggs, still only a few weeks until the truth is out, but i some how doubt that

  6. Hidden agenda? For what it’s worth, here is my guess.

    A couple of years ago, Beynon and Pugh decide they want the Riverside centre back, either to sell or use. Who knows.

    Riverside Board say no. B & P get very cross.

    They then(B & P) make unreasonable demands for monies and or stupid increase in rent.

    Riverside Board argue and a settlement is reached. B & P get even crosser, moving in to tantrum mode.

    B and P then come up with a cunning plan to starve them out. Increase rent then restrict levels of income.

    As Baldrick might say, “it seems like a cunning plan to me.”

  7. Black Dog

    21.Nov.2012 7:22pm

    If Bynon spent as much time on the school as he does on vetting the Riverside Centers Rentals, would we have a different outcome? No, as incompetence breeds incompetence.

    Roll along the elections.

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