Sunday, September 25, 2022

Save the Thameside protest at council meeting

PROTESTORS dressed in pantomime costume greeted councillors as a petition over the closure of the Thameside theatre was presented.

The theatre in Grays is reportedly costing the council too much to run with bosses looking at relocating a museum and library in the complex, leaving the theatre’s future in doubt.

Placard waving protestors left the council in no doubt about how they felt as a 4,000 signature petition was lodged.

Addressing the council on Wednesday evening, campaigner Martyn Williams said: “The presentation at the last cabinet meeting seemed to show total misunderstanding of the Thameside new streaming service funded by the cultural recovery fund. The service is designed to bring quality entertainment to those who are unable or can’t come to the theatre.

“To work it needs the theatre to operate the streaming service and was never intended to replace the real theatre experince. With audiences annually of over 40,000 people enjoyed the staged professional shows, quality drama and many community offerings that all support local businesses.”

Mr Williams added:“Like most theatres currently it now brings a virtual offering to the community while the pandemic lasts, not as a substitute for real theatre. In that meeting members spoke of transparency but with no detailed break down to support your claims of £16million repair costs and £500,000 running costs.

“In fact in councillor Deborah Huelin’s recent interview  she quoted £17million and gave wrong information on a lift capacity of one person at a time. Wrong. There are two lifts with a capacity of eight persons in each lift and dedicated space for ten wheelchairs in the theatre.”

Mr Williams went on to question the council’s ability.

He said: “Grossly wrong basic information like this and others at cabinet brings into question the ability of all members to make any sound decision on the theatre. on the council’s website you state the museum, library and civic library are at the heart of the town.

“The civic offices have had a massive investment and yet the policy is for staff to work from home. The library is likely to be reduced to two PCs and twenty bookcases in the new building, hopelessly insufficient for the size of the community it serves and no theatre or museum provision. We can only hope that now you have the Grays town funding your plan for investment in the theatre and museum as promised in 2017 will be implemented.

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