THURROCK Council is working with community groups on the viability of setting up a company to run the Thameside Theatre, which is under threat of closure.
Campaigners have got together to try to run the theatre in Grays after the council said it would be too costly to maintain and run in the future. The council has since been working with the groups to prevent the closure.
Mark Coxshall, councillor responsible for regeneration, strategic planning and external relations, gave an update to councillors at a recent corporate overview and scrutiny committee Meeting and revealed the council may even provide some financial backing for the scheme.
He said: “The community groups are fantastic. We’re working with the community to see if we can produce a small company that can take over the whole running of the building. The worst thing possible is to hand them an asset that’s unviable, that they can’t make work because that would be worse for us as a council. I don’t want to see in five or six years a closed theatre. That would be worse.
“We’re meeting at the end of the month with the community groups to see if we can find funding for that and see to if we can make sure they’ve got some bite.”
It is hoped a rescue plan can be agreed by March but Mr Coxshall said he didn’t want to give the groups false hope.
He said: “It’s high risk. I’d rather say we have to close than give them false hope but I hope we can move forward to see that the limited company works right.”
John Kent, leader of the Labour group, said: “I’m pleased that progress is being made. I think you’re absolutely right, it’s got to be set conditions that give them a fighting chance of still being there in ten to 15 years, not something that lasts for a year and then collapses. It’s got to be sustainable. It’s high risk on both sides.”
The Thameside complex includes a museum. There is also a library which may be relocated to a new civic office, which is set to open next month.