Charity running Castle theatre in Northamptonshire to have its contract terminated

Councillors have decided to give notice to terminate the contract of the charity which runs a town theatre.

Wednesday, 23rd March 2016, 3:59 pm
Updated Wednesday, 23rd March 2016, 4:02 pm
The Castle theatre

The Castle Wellingborough Ltd is a charity which won the contract to run The Castle theatre in Wellingborough in 2011.

With the amount of grant the council could provide to assist with its running costs reducing over time, the charity has had to look at ways of generating enough revenue or find alternative funding to make up the shortfall.

The council’s own financial situation has been challenging for a number of years, and the authority says it was made clear to The Castle Wellingborough Ltd when it won the contract that the same level of non-statutory funding could not continue.

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The Castle Wellingborough Ltd went to the council last December with a plan to develop the facility and become self-funding, which councillors welcomed.

But while councillors see the theatre as a pivotal part of the cultural offering in the town centre and would be sorry to lose it, research into the viability of the proposed development has brought to light the fact that the company’s financial liabilities are significant.

At an extraordinary meeting of the council last night, councillors felt unable to support the company’s request and – once the true state of their finances was known – unable to continue with the existing contract.

Council leader Paul Bell said: “The Castle theatre was paid for by the people of Wellingborough and the council wants to see it survive and thrive.

“It needs to be run well and the council cannot continue to use public money to fund a company which has shown such poor financial management.

“Last night councillors made a very difficult decision, but I really hope that, by giving The Castle Wellingborough Ltd six months’ notice, the council will have time to find another way of running the theatre.

“Many local people have expressed their support for a period of review and consultation about its future – so that is what the council is proposing.

“The council has made it very clear that they want to see the cultural quarter of the town continue and flourish, and will be considering how best to do that.

“Part of that will involve discussions with the community before meeting further to consider how best to continue the arts provision in the town.”

Further details of how to put your point of view forward will be publicised in a few weeks but until then any comments or suggestions can be submitted via the following email address [email protected], where they will be collated and taken into account when further discussions take place.