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Update on The Globe Theatre

June 28, 2019 7:23 PM
By Julia Cherrett & David Minchella

An Update from Lib Dem councillors Julia Cherrett and David Minchella

People might have read on Facebook or in the local press about the decision at last night's Extraordinary Council meeting to invest a further £6.5m of taxpayer's money into The Globe restoration.

This will bring the total spend to £27m (assuming that no further investment is called for in the future). £4.5m was given towards the cost by the Heritage Lottery Fund leaving £22.5m coming from local residents.

It was not an easy decision. Without the £6.5m the whole project could come to a halt and the £4.5m might have to be repaid to Heritage Lottery. But there is no bottomless pit of money, "no magic money tree".

The cost of borrowing the further £6.5m will be £325k per year for 25 years. This money will be found by cutting services. David Minchella spoke about this at the meeting saying "services have already been cut to the bone. Street cleaning, youth provision, tree maintenance, just some of the things that the public wants to see us do more of but there's no money to do it. Further cuts in Government grants can be expected and no-ne can predict the effect that Brexit might have on the local economy". David went on to ask what further cuts we can expect to see to repay this money. The Labour Cabinet member said he couldn't provide detail.

Julia Cherrett questioned why Stockton Council hadn't bought the adjacent property (153 High Street) which is to be incorporated into the restoration to provide toilets and bar facilities. Jomast, a local property company, own the building but the council will pay all the costs of refurbishment, lease it from Jomast and then, in 2031 will have the option to buy it at "full market value". That means that Jomast are set to make a huge profit, all at the expense of Stockton council tax payers. (This brought a round of applause from some councillors and members of the public).

Many councillors questioned why we were being asked to make such a huge, long ranging decision in such a short space of time and based on no more than 2 sides of A4 detail. Again, no satisfactory answers were given.

The Conservatives submitted an amendment asking that the matter be deferred pending external audit. Julia and David supported this amendment but inexplicably the Fairfield and Yarm Independents (formerly Conservatives) supported Labour and it was voted down by 24 votes to 22.

Eventually the recommendation to make the further investment was put to the vote and was carried with 25 votes for and 21 against. Needless to say, Julia and David both voted against the extra spending.