The boss of a Runcorn-based bailiffs’ firm has offered to meet borough councillors who are uneasy with his company sponsoring a council-owned sports stadium.
Gary Robinson, chief executive of DCBL, told the LDRS he had been “surprised” by the negative reactions to the news that his company had signed a deal to sponsor Halton Stadium.
One councillor was so unhappy with the move that she resigned from her position on the authority.
Mr Robinson said: “I thought I was putting a bit back into the community. I thought I was helping the community, helping the Widnes Vikings.
“I’m quite taken aback by some of the councillors’ and the public’s reactions.”
Several councillors are understood to be uneasy about the deal, which will see the Widnes Vikings’ ground renamed the DCBL Stadium in return for an undisclosed annual sum, and Cllr Andrea Wall resigned as Halton Council’s member without portfolio in protest.
The deal has also drawn criticism from some residents on social media, although others have said they were pleased to see the stadium get a sponsor.
In her resignation statement, Cllr Wall said she was “very unhappy” with the deal, adding: “I have worked for years trying to help people in poverty and if this deal continues, I will continue to call it the Halton or Widnes Stadium and refuse to recognise any new name as a result of this deal.”
Offering to meet people opposed to DCBL’s sponsorship of the council-owned stadium in Widnes, Mr Robinson said: “There’s a group of anti-bailiffs and nothing we do can be right, but we have policies in place and we try to help people.
“I’d like to speak to some of the people who are anti the idea [of DCBL sponsoring the stadium]. I’m quite confused as to what we’ve done that’s offending people.
“We’re a compliant business. Like anything, the odd mistake is made, but with the scrutiny of being in the media so much, we are very compliant.”
DCBL gained a national profile through the Channel 5 show Can’t Pay, We’ll Take It Away, which Mr Robinson said had portrayed the company in a positive light.
He also pointed to DCBL’s apprenticeship programmes as evidence of its positive contributions to the borough and stressed that it was not just a bailiffs company but also operated an SIA-approved security company and high court enforcement agency.
Mr Robinson added: “I felt we were doing some good things for the borough, but obviously there’s a stigma around the industry.”
However, Cllr Wall told the LDRS that, while she made no accusations about DCBL’s practices specifically, she would not be interested in meeting Mr Robinson.
She said: “My position is clear, I help residents who have been intimidated by bailiffs.
“If my residents want to contact me for help, they are less likely to do so if I have any involvement with bailiffs. It goes against my principles.
“And the TV show isn’t called Won’t Pay, We’ll Take It Away, it’s called Can’t Pay.”
Halton Stadium has been without a sponsor since 2017 when the previous deal with Runcorn-based Select Security expired.
The lack of a sponsor has contributed to the stadium’s failure to meet its income targets for the council in recent years, as has the Vikings’ relegation from Super League in 2018.
Commenting on the deal, a Halton Council spokesperson said: “We have been looking for a new sponsor for some time since the last contract ended and this will provide income for the stadium which is a valuable facility for the local community.
“DCBL are a local firm who want to invest in the area.”