Re the Futurist Theatre:
Conservatives rule OK! No, it is not OK when democracy is seen to be deliberately thrown out of the council windows.
A cabinet meeting, a scrutiny committee and back to a cabinet meeting, all dominated by one party with an autocratic leader and deputy leader who seem to have a need to be seen to be powerful. Their followers bask in this reflected power and wield it on their behalf at meetings.
Meanwhile, the people, with a vast range of skills, experience and knowledge, which they are already deploying at their own expense to bring a lot of money, including international visitors, into the town through their own independently produced, highly successful festival efforts and business ability, are treated with contempt by these councillors and the officers who are required to serve them.
Not to mention the 10,500 good people and citizens of the borough who signed petitions, whose opinion does not count apparently.
To add insult to injury these tax payers are now being expected by the council to fund an unknown amount of money, possibly running into millions, together with our garden land, to allow an equally unknown bidder who wishes to remain anonymous, to develop himself a business with our help.
He has given no indication of what this “magic cave” and its other “attractions” are going to look like or how many visitors are envisaged, over what time period, or what sort of contribution this will make to the local economy. We asked permission to present this question at the scrutiny committee and were refused. Do they actually have the information?
The council’s decision is based on one advertisement placed in one property journal, with a very limited specialist readership, at the beginning of summer with a response required right in the middle of the summer holiday season; a time when knowledgeable business people would never normally dream of advertising.
We are told that only two bids came in as a result of this, one of which was deemed inappropriate, and they have proceeded with the one and only remaining, which has a lot of strings and conditions attached; in essence this has actually changed the terms and conditions of the original invitation to tender to suit the bidder’s own criteria.
This bidder seems to be in charge of the council. Had developers known that they could ignore these terms and conditions and put in whatever sort of bid they wanted, more would have come forward. There does not seem to have been a level playing field.
The council is propagating as fact that this one and only bid in response to this one and only limited advertisement is proof that the virtually nil response obviously reflects the opinion of the total business market that no business people anywhere are interested or care about the Futurist theatre or the buildings. This is disingenuous to put it mildly.
Also the Theatres Trust has been writing frequently to the council leader and all the cabinet members, most recently reminding them of Government National Policy Framework requirements in relation to the community and its involvement in these developments.
Also they have offered advice on where to advertise to get maximum attention of appropriate potential developers. They have not received a single reply from any of them. Collective amnesia or collective agreement?
As a result of the challenges thrown down at the scrutiny meeting there is a strong belief that this invitation to tender should be modified, and should be re-advertised in a wider selection of appropriate media to reach more potential interest.
These amendments need to reflect the council’s response to the present bid, thus creating a level playing field.
Save the Futurist Campaign