Letter: Support for Futurist was far and wide ... and free
Firstly, thank you to the residents of the Borough of Scarborough for giving and showing their support to the Save the Futurist Campaign, by not only attending the full council meeting on Monday, but by attending other public meetings, supporting the People's Petition, business case of March 2016 (which took two years to produce) and business plan submitted to the council on January 5 which, whilst requesting a stay of execution, detailed how they would progress the formation of a trust through Coast and Vale Community Action, carry out a current viability study for the running of the theatre and through sponsorship in the form of free help from tradesman throughout the construction industry both locally and nationally, which included the removal of the exterior cladding, restoration of the original faÃ§ade and much needed work to the roof, voluntary help from the community, together with the raising of funds by a unique share scheme devised by a local businessman.
All of which, given the time, would have enabled the Futurist to be restored, re-opened and sustained at no cost to the council or ratepaying residents.
Additional free support was also sponsored by a local surveyor who offered to carry out a full structural survey free of charge, the services of a local registered firm of accountants, offers from architects to design the new dock door (scenery access facility) and latterly the services free of a renowned world theatre restorer to project manage the redevelopment.
Letters of support for the retention of the theatre were also received from the Theatres Trust, the Cinema Association Trust and John Thompson and Partners.
By a narrow majority, the full council decision on Monday of 22 to 21 (plus one abstention) gave approval to the allocation of £4m of public funds for the demolition of the Futurist theatre and adjoining buildings and stabilisation of the cliff. It was also confirmed, as indicated in the February 2016/7 Budget, that the £4m comprises £2.5m from council reserves and £1.5m to be borrowed.
If the cabinet, next week, approves the appointment of Willmott Dixon to carry out pre-construction services (as detailed in the full council report) including completion of ground investigations already committed but with final reports not available until the end of January 2017, the council will begin to incur costs and liable to pay up to £416,000 over an expended risk period of 30 weeks.
On completion of these pre-contract services and if the contract sum is within the remaining £3,559m budget, the council will have the option to enter into contract with Willmott Dixon.
As councillor for Castle Ward I am very concerned with regard to the risk matrix within the council report and, bearing in mind that confirmation was given that both the Futurist, adjoining buildings and cliff/slope are at present, catastrophic slope collapse could take place through the demolition of the Futurist buildings etc ahnd 100 families now live within the Blands Cliff,
Prospect Place and King Street Flats area and it is commonly known that Blands Cliff is hollow and indeed within a tiered properties hold each other up.
Businesses could also be affected within the area. Full consultations need to be carried out together with a geotechnical survey.
We still await firm plans and commitments from Flamingo Land regarding their new revised roller coaster park, however within details of the ‘Futurist Feasibility Submission of October 2016 report’ there appears to be options also for a hotel, apartment blocks, and new offices for Scarborough Borough Council - with a total spend of £24m - none of which has as yet been discussed by full council.
We still await information with regard to the ‘Certificate of indemnity against listing’ which Scarborough Borough Council applied for in February 2016 which, if not granted, will mean the Futurist will become listed. Also through Durham Land Registry we have been informed of certain restrictive covenants within the conveyance dated March 23, 1984, made between Futurist Enterprises Limited (1) and Futurist Properties (2) referred to in the Futurist Theatre Title which could indicate certain terms and conditions with regard to the Futurist theatre, its maintenance and disposal.
The Futurist theatre brought economic viability to Scarborough and the South Bay, bringing under trade terms ‘heads on beds and bums on seats’ and should, in my opinion, have remained open until all plans and offers had been secured. It was and still could be viable. South Bay Traders have worked extremely hard to promote festivals and special events throughout the year and the ‘Free after 6’ parking initiative within car parks has worked very well. A town with lots of theatres attracts a travelling theatre clientele and in the words of ‘Welcome to Yorkshire’ Scarborough is a popular main destination.
Thank you to The Scarborough News, radio and TV for their coverage of this very important issue all of which I am sure is very much appreciated by the residents of the Borough of Scarborough.
Cllr Janet Jefferson
Independent, Castle Ward