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Councillors budget meeting set to determine future of Weymouth Pavilion
CAMPAIGNERS are hoping it’s not curtains for Weymouth Pavilion as councillors meet to set a critical budget.
Important financial decisions will be made in the venue threatened with closure when councillors come together tomorrow night.
Weymouth and Portland Borough Council can no longer afford to operate the much-loved theatre because it is such a drain on resources and is considering closing and demolishing it.
The authority is under huge financial pressure and is set to slash a number of services and cut jobs to save money as well as agreeing a process to sell off assets.
Savings of more than £2.2m have to be achieved while setting the budget for 2013/14 and similar gaps are anticipated in future as government funding is reduced.
The threat to the Pavilion has rallied locals and a group formed by Weymouth businessman Phil Say has put forward a proposal to take it off the council’s hands and run it as a not-for-profit community interest company.
Management committee members unanimously backed this option when they met earlier this month and have recommended to the full council tomorrow the option of leasing the Pavilion so it can be run for community use.
A legal process will have to be followed and a timetable has been prepared for councillors. If it was handed to the community, the venue would still close at the end of May and a new lease would begin sometime between July and September following a tendering process.
A report to full council says bookings made after the closure date will have to be cancelled and the council could face huge liabilities, up to as much as £68,000.
Mr Say said if things went to plan he anticipated taking over the Pavilion in mid to late June and he would honour existing bookings.
He questioned why the process could potentially take all summer as it would prove very costly.
Mr Say said: “I am hoping full council will ratify the decision of the management committee.
“If we are successful in taking over the lease of the building we would like that to be as soon as possible after the end of May. What I want to avoid is the Pavilion being boarded up throughout the summer costing taxpayers thousands while the wheels of bureaucracy grind slowly forward.
“I hope the process can be speeded up and I’ll be looking to the council for guidance. I see no reason why we can’t get on with this as soon as possible after the meeting, assuming the decision goes our way.”
The full council will meet at 7pm in the Pavilion Ocean Room.
AS WELL as debating the future of the Pavilion, the council will also consider proposals to reduce services as it looks to balance the budget.
This includes taking £100,000 from the CCTV budget, closing Weymouth Tourist Information Centre at the end of May and Portland TIC in September, raising council tax so the increase on a Band B would be 1.9 per cent, moving to all-out elections in 2015 and reducing the number of councillors. The process will also be started to sell of the Guildhall and the council offices on North Quay.
Investigations will also be carried out to find savings in other areas including parking, the mayor’s office, parks, and festivals and events.