Council’s vow to act on theatre

One of the successes: Sir Elton John plays the Open Air Theatre to a sell-out, record crowd of 8500
One of the successes: Sir Elton John plays the Open Air Theatre to a sell-out, record crowd of 8500

SCARBOROUGH Council will step in to ensure the Open Air Theatre’s summer programme is a success, a senior councillor has said.

As the debate over the lack of a schedule at the venue raged following the Evening News front page story yesterday, Cllr David Jeffels, who holds the Scarborough Council cabinet portfolio for tourism, took to the air waves in an early evening radio broadcast.

He said that the council was prepared to act after it became clear that Apollo Leisure, the venue’s operator, would only be able to stage a limited programme of shows.

Cllr Jeffels said: “It is a disappointment but, having said that, the council has contingency plans to supplement the programme if Apollo isn’t able to fill the whole season.

“We shall use our contacts in the entertainment industry to compliment any programme Apollo may have.”

Cllr Jeffels also hit back at claims made by Paul Gregg, the chairman of Apollo Leisure, which said that the council had indicated that a permanent ‘floating stage’ at the venue would be in place for this summer.

Mr Gregg claimed the lack of the additional seating and stage area had forced the company to change its plans late in the day.

“The council did not make any commitment to progress the idea because it will be subject to a sound business case being made to justify the investment,” Cllr Jeffels added.

“We have asked Apollo for information which would justify that spending.”

Apollo Leisure has vowed that a programme of events, which was originally due in November, will be announced by the end of this month.

Cllr Jeffels said he remains confident that the season at the Open Air Theatre will be a success.

He added: “The Open Air Theatre is a key part of our entertainment and holiday industry and the borough’s economy. I’m sure we will see a successful programme.

“It is an iconic venue which I’m sure many artists will be happy to play.

“It is recognised as a significant venue in the British entertainment field and we hope Apollo does provide it with the quality acts it – and Scarborough – deserves.”