West Norfolk Council holds talks about future of two leisure venues
VITAL talks have been held about the future of two of west Norfolk s key leisure venues. West Norfolk Council met with hirers of the Guild Hall of St George, King s Lynn, and the Princess Theatre, Hunstanton, to share ideas about the future for cultural s
VITAL talks have been held about the future of two of west Norfolk's key leisure venues.
West Norfolk Council met with hirers of the Guild Hall of St George, King's Lynn, and the Princess Theatre, Hunstanton, to share ideas about the future for cultural services.
The meetings aimed to give hirers the opportunity to discuss various options which are being investigated for the two venues and allowed the council to fully-understand hirers' needs.
Proposals put forward include temporary moth-balling of the Guild Hall and a proposal to sell the Princess Theatre or transfer the management of it to a private company.
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Councillor Nick Daubney, Leader of West Norfolk Council, said: "It has been well-documented that the council has a practice of forward planning and needs to balance 2011/12 budgets.
"Economic depression has reduced income streams and central government grants are being squeezed.
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"We are faced with the challenge of continuing to deliver quality services with reduced support.
"To do this we must find efficiencies and economies and we are reviewing all of our services. Sound financial management in the past has meant that we are not forced to make knee-jerk reactions to deliver short-term savings.
"The review process allows us to consider all the options and find solutions that are financially sound and make cultural services accessible to our residents."
Three options are currently under consideration for the Guild Hall of St George, and five for the Princess Theatre. They are:
Guild Hall of St George
• Hall for hire - This would involve the withdrawal of council-led programming and promotional activity, but allow hirers to book the venue.
• Leisure Trust(s). Transfer of facilities to one or more trusts enabling the trust to benefit from saving associated with charitable status, whilst continuing to provide cultural services in the borough.
• Temporary 'mothballing'. Short-term closure would allow time for bids to be made for funds to improve the arts centre complex, including the theatre.
• Seasonal opening - the theatre would be open for live entertainment shows only during the summer season and closed during the rest of the year.
• Seasonal opening 'Plus' - the theatre would be open during the summer season for live entertainment shows and would be open as a cinema all year round.
• Sale of Princess Theatre.
• Transfer of the management to a private company.
• Leisure Trust(s) - see above.
No decision will be made about which option will be pursued until Cabinet has considered all the options in the New Year.
In the meantime liaison groups for the two venues, comprising hirers, have been formed and will be in regular contact with the council as it works towards a solution.
Cllr Daubney said: "The meeting enabled us to have constructive discussions about the future.
"I thank all those who attended, and I am confident that we can find the best way to deliver cultural services in this extremely difficult economic climate.