Aberdeen City Council is set to write off £26.2m in loans owed by Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre to the local authority.
The council’s Labour-led administration announced its intention to “pay off the historic loans” at a press conference on Tuesday.
However council leader Barney Crockett was unable to specify where the money would come from to bail out the conference centre or how long it would take to pay off the debt.
He said: “This would be a momentous decision which would allow the AECC to plan more clearly for the future and go forward on a firmer financial footing as a major public exhibition space unencumbered by debt.
“This is the clearest possible evidence of this administration’s commitment to the economic future of the city.”
When asked where the £26.2m would be found to settle the debts, Councillor Crockett said: “We have to look at that. The first thing is we have the determination. The people can be assured the money is not coming off planned revenue or capital expenditure. I think we can find a way to reduce the debt level and put the exhibition centre on a firm financial footing.”
He added: “I’m very optimistic about timescale but we are not laying down a timescale at the moment.”
Ed Gillespie, chairman of Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre, said the move would allow them to focus on the future and not be weighed down by the capital debts of the past.
He said: “It is the best possible news for the exhibition centre because it removes a long-standing capital debt, which has been there since the place opened almost 30 years ago and was never resolved.
“If that capital debt is written off as I hope it’s going to be then we can get on with planning for the future and making sure that the exhibition centre is at the forefront of all energy and other exhibitions.”