£1M OF CHERWELL council money will be loaned to Silverstone to help pay for a new attraction.

The money will only be paid back five years after the new Silverstone Experience opens, with the hope that it could attract 450,000 visitors in its first year.

Councillors raised concerns that they were loaning money to the Northamptonshire circuit, despite its working arrangement with South Northamptonshire Council ending soon.

Silverstone Heritage Limited has already been given £9.1m of grant funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund for its new visitor attraction. That will focus on the country's premier race track’s history and heritage.

South Northamptonshire Council, which Cherwell council shortly will break ties with as it is swallowed up by a new unitary authority in Northamptonshire, has also pledged money.

Buckinghamshire County Council and Aylesbury Vale District Council have also chip into the £8m pot for other funding, along with other partners and Local Enterprise Partnerships.

Nicholas Turner, a Conservative, said he had ‘great concerns’ about the policy.

He said: “I’ve had issues right from the start with this. In the earlier days I went along with it because we were investing in a district we were in partnership with. We’re now no longer in partnership with them.

“I just don’t see why we’re investing in something in a different district. I get, yes, we can borrow the money cheaply and lend it more expensively and make money out of it.

“Can we upgrade Oxford Castle?

"Or Blenheim Palace who might say: ‘we’ve got this great idea at Blenheim Palace.

"Or even Gaydon Heritage Centre? You could say Gaydon Heritage Centre is closer to us than Silverstone.

“I do have great concerns about this. I think we have gone away from our own remit.

“If it was in our own district, that would be fine.”

But council leader Barry Wood – who lives in Finmere, about eight miles from Silverstone – said the race track is so influential that it impacts on people living and running businesses in Cherwell district.

He said: “The radius in terms of people working at Silverstone and its magnetism for tourism and skills, its circle of impact, is 50 miles. I put it to you that the tourism that this district hopes to promote and ability…is linked to the future of Silverstone.”

Labour group leader Sean Woodcock said councillors had been asked last month to propose giving money out 'on a whim' to 'a private business venture...that is not even in our district'.

But councillors voted in favour of the move.

The new attraction's Royal patron is Prince Harry.

According to its website, it 'aims to inspire future engineers and bring them closer to motor sport through interactive installations based on science, technology, engineering and maths'.

It says it will open on June 1, 2019 and will welcome visitors daily except for Christmas Day. It is housed in a refurbished hangar and is based at the main entrance of the Silverstone circuit.

It sits relatively close to Bicester, Banbury, Milton Keynes and Northampton. Bicester is about 18 miles away, with Banbury about 16.5 miles away.