SCARBOROUGH’S Open Air Theatre will have new safety handrails installed after councillors approved a £47,000 plan.
The refurbished venue was officially re-opened by the Queen last May and one initial criticism which was raised about the design of the auditorium was that the elderly or visitors with mobility problems struggled when climbing the steep seating tiers.
The issue was discussed by members of Scarborough Council’s cabinet and David Archer, the council’s strategic director, stressed that there had been no accidents so far and the venue had been designed fully to comply with current building regulations. He said: “The architect that we’ve been working with has come up with a solution.”
Under the proposal the metal rails would be installed on one side of the stairs only and the cost would be funded from the Capital Contingency Reserve.
Mr Archer said: “The council is the landlord of the theatre and it is our responsibility not the operator’s responsibility.”
The individual tubular handrails would measure 40mm in diameter, would be held in place on galvanised steel posts and would be finished in a coloured polyester powder coating.
Installation would require 204 units – at a cost of £210.16 per unit – at a total cost of £42,872.64 and an overall budget of £47,000 to allow for any unexpected items.
But councillors were advised that Cllr Mike Cockerill, who has a background in steel fabrication, had identified a cheaper supplier.
Chris Bourne, the council’s projects manager, said that best value was being looked for when awarding the contract and if a cheaper suitable quote was found then that would be the preferred option.
Cllr Tom Fox, the council leader, confirmed that the alternative quote would be fully investigated and if it proved acceptable then it would be the preferred option
Cllr Jane Kenyon said that there had also been problems experienced by customers near to a swimming pool car park in wet conditions. She said: “Those steps were beyond dangerous, they were frightening.”
Mr Bourne said that the steps had since been closed and Cllr Derek Bastiman said they had been grassed over.
It is expected that once the contract is awarded it will take eight weeks to manufacture the rails and a further four weeks to install them at the venue, so they will not be ready in time for Elton John’s concert on June 5.