Belvedere profile grows as deficit drops

With appearances scheduled for BBC2’s Antiques Roadshow and the Golf Channel in the US this autumn, and a budget deficit almost half of what it was in 2010, the future of Belvedere House and Gardens is beginning to look a lot more secure.

This was revealed in a report presented to the Westmeath County Council earlier this week at its last meeting before the summer break.

“The important thing is we live within our budget provision, and we’re doing that,” said Jimmy Dalton, acting head of finance, to the councillors.

Although pointing out that there was still little room for complacency as the county’s primary heritage treasure was still running at a deficit, this has dropped from €490,000 in the first six months of 2010, to €249,000 in the first half of this year. This equates to spending €1.37 for every euro earned this year, compared to €1.68 for every unit of income last year.

“We have ourselves a tough but realistic budget. So far, so good,” said Mr Dalton.

“We obviously have work to do on the marketing front, and though I’m no expert on this, we should get great coverage with this [the Roadshow and Golf Channel],” he continued.

He pointed out that the Life Festival returned to the Tudenham site last May, and in doing so, became the first time a promoter used the facility for a second year in a row.

The report also revealed that the FÁS horticulture course held on the site is so popular, that there are 80 people on a waiting list for the next one with only 20 places available. This also has led to a television appearance, and will see the grounds feature on Secret Garden with Diarmuid O’Neill on RTÉ1 later this year.

The only slight negative in the report is the drop in visitor numbers from 96,000 in the first six months of 2010 to 83,000 this year, although this is predominantly put down to the bad weather on the Sunday of the Midlands Home and Garden Festival on the June bank holiday, which saw attendance down by 60 per cent.

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