Felixstowe: Spa Pavilion closure decision to be reviewed

CAMPAIGNERS are today hoping community leaders will have a change of heart after the decision to axe funding for Felixstowe’s seafront theatre was “called in” for review.

The Evening Star’s Save Our Spa campaign has received overwhelming support – with theatre-goers pleading with Suffolk Coastal council to reconsider their decision to close the venue this summer.

The council’s cabinet has decided the council could no longer afford to give the necessary long-term financial commitment to the theatre, which currently receives around �250,000 a year and needs at least �3 million in maintenance and improvements to bring it up to modern standards.

The authority though is hoping a leisure or entertainment company might buy it, or that community groups will form a charitable trust and take it over.

Felixstowe deputy mayor Mike Deacon and others have requested that the cabinet decision is called in, putting future ideas for the future on hold.

Now the council’s scrutiny committee will discuss the issue on Thursday and consider the confidential report presented to cabinet last month.

Because the papers include items that are currently commercially sensitive, the committee will have to determine whether the discussions on the Spa decision will have to be held without the public being present.

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“The system of checks and balances that we have in place are that any councillor can call-in a decision made by the cabinet, which means that it is put on hold until it can be scrutinised by this committee,” said Phillip Dunnett, chairman of the scrutiny committee.

“This meeting will give us the opportunity to look carefully at the reasons that shaped the decision made by the cabinet, including all the relevant background papers, and we can also quiz senior councillors and officers, or indeed others from outside the council who may have useful and relevant information.

“The role of our committee when dealing with a called-in decision is not to simply agree or disagree with the decision, but rather to look at whether all the evidence was taken into account and weighed up appropriately before the decision was made.”

At the scrutiny committee, councillors can either back the original decision taken by cabinet, or refer it back to cabinet asking it to reconsider its decision and giving reasons why it should do so, or refer the matter to a meeting of the full council.

The official letter informing the venue’s current managers, Openwide Coastal, that the council is giving it six months’ notice of the ending of the contract to run the theatre has also been deferred until the outcome of next week’s meeting is known.