Felixstowe: New hope in fight to save Spa Pavilion from closure

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save a seafront theatre were given new hope today after councillors asked for a fresh look to be taken at the decision to withdraw its funding.

They agreed to send the matter back to the council’s cabinet – which earlier said it could not afford to run Felixstowe’s Spa Pavilion any longer – to be reconsidered with the specific request that the theatre should be kept open for longer to give groups looking to set up a charitable trust more time.

The Evening Star has launched a Save Our Spa campaign and supporters greeted members of Suffolk Coastal’s scrutiny committee with a good-natured protest as they arrived for last night’s meeting.

Suzie Lowe and Lisa Hardy, members of the steering group set up to see if a charitable trust can be formed, gave evidence to the committee.

“With the right shows the Spa can put bums on seats now and I believe with the right shows in the future and a few changes it can be a huge success,” said Miss Lowe.

Councillors had been due to discuss the matter behind closed doors but agreed to hold their debate in open session.

Several councillors voiced fears that the venue could shut this summer and be left boarded up if no new operator was found.Deputy mayor Mike Deacon said loss of the theatre would be a “serious blow” to Felixstowe.

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“Imagine the newly-refurbished Spa Gardens with a derelict theatre standing in the middle – we would be a laughing stock,” he said.

“I believe there are people who would like to see it close and I think we have to make our minds up whether we want a resort at Felixstowe.”

Felixstowe councillor Jan Garfield said: “All we are asking for is more time – if more time is given people will pull together and get a trust up and running.” .

Felixstowe councillor Stuart Bird said the Spa was not an essential service.

“We are subsidising each ticket by �7.61. I would like to go to social events where council taxpayers paid �7.61 of my ticket. We have got to live in the real world,” he said.

Cabinet member Geoff Holdcroft said the council would seek tenders from leisure companies or trusts to run the Spa.