Council give update to campaign group on Theatre’s future

18th March 2021
southport theatre and convention centre

Sefton Council’s Executive Director Stephen Watson has given an update on the future of the Southport Theatre complex to the ‘Save Southport Theatre’ group.

The Southport Theatre & Convention Centre closed last year due to coronavirus, causing operator Bliss Space to enter liquidation in May.

The ‘Save Southport Theatre And The Floral Hall‘ Facebook group, started in July by former STCC employee Lisa Lea Kelly, now has over 6,600 members.

The group has been in contact with Stephen Watson and have now published an open letter regarding the theatre’s future.

Southport was awarded a £37.5m Town Deal fund from a £50m application at the beginning of the month, prompting discussions on how the money will now be spent.

Mr Watson says a refurbished Events Centre and Marine Lake “remain priorities for the board”

Mr Watson’s open letter reads: “None of the 45 Town Deals announced this month were bigger than ours – it is reflective of the quality of our bid, the collaborative and successful working of the council and the Town Deal board, and the attractiveness of Southport as an investment opportunity. However, it is also a result of the passionate engagement from people across the town. This is the culmination of the biggest conversation the town has ever had about its future, but consultation and engagement will continue as this process and as these projects are progressed.

“Over the next 6 weeks the Town Deal board chair, and the Council’s Chief Executive in consultation with the cabinet member will agree the Heads of Terms for the Town Deal. Once agreed with government – hopefully by early May – we will be able to share an update on plans for the £37.5m and for the projects, building on the work already undertaken and on the consultation and engagement undertaken last year.

“However, the Events Centre and the activation of the lake were cornerstones of the Town Deal bid, and remain priorities for the board – this reflects the consultation and engagement feedback from across the town, from people of all ages, last year, which we aim to continue this year. The aim remains to deliver a first-class flexible events space, maximising event days to ensure its financial sustainability, but also delivering a wide range of events, from conferences to e-sports to theatre shows to community events. Accompanied by a spectacular show in the lake, it will be an attraction in itself, and will transform our offer to a wide range of sectors and geographic markets. Both before the bid submission and since the council has invested significantly in design and development work, to ensure the project is ready to start as quickly as possible, but there remains much work to do and further consultation will be undertaken as we progress. We didn’t get the full £50m we asked for but this remains a priority project, and we’re keeping the momentum that we’ve built.

“In the immediate, we are obviously evaluating options for the short-term as well as the long-term. We are conscious of the impact last year’s closure and the insolvency of the operator has had on local people and businesses (as well as the council). We’re looking at community impacts, financial sustainability and most importantly health and safety. We’ll be able to update on that in the coming months, but would reaffirm that this work is ongoing. No decisions have been made at this time, but neither can any commitments be made at this time.”

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