Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Plans to save the Thameside Theatre seem doomed to failure

THURROCK Council is set to wash its hands of the Thameside Theatre after declaring alternative solutions to saving the much-loved complex are unworkable.

The theatre had been earmarked for disposal along with many other council assets as it seeks to bridge a £469 budget funding gap but opposition to the closure forced the council to reconsider.

The council has been working with the community to seek a way of saving it since 2021. The council held a number of talks with community groups who hoped to take over the theatre as an alternative to “closure and disposal”.

An outline business case by a partnership between Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions and Thurrock International Celebration of Culture was drawn up and Waltham International College also expressed interest in leasing the building.

However, a report to councillors on the corporate overview and scrutiny committee, who are due to meet tonight (Tues) said: “This report considers both proposals and other options available to the council and concludes that neither proposal delivers a financially sustainable alternative and closure and disposal of the property with the library and museum being relocated remains the best option for eliminating future financial liability for the building and meeting medium term financial plan targets.”

The report adds: “The challenges facing the council are well publicised and this report should be read in that context. Future service activity will need to reflect the intervention the council finds itself in. Particularly difficult decisions will need to be made on levels of service and methods of service delivery during 2023 and beyond.”

At last week’s council meeting a representative of campaigners opposing the closure called for all 49 councillors to be given the opportunity to vote on the future of the Thameside complex as part of council leader, Mark Coxshall’s much vaunted new era of openness and transparency.

Mr Coxshall declined the request. He said: “This is an executive decision and as such it stays with the cabinet but the cabinet serves at the request of this council. It makes the ultimate decisions and directs the executive if it chooses.”

Cabinet is set to begin a consultation on alternative options for delivery of cultural activities and events and on the relocation of the library and museum from the Thameside Building to the Civic Offices.


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