Felixstowe: Theatre thrown a lifeline

FELIXSTOWE: Campaigners may be able to keep the Spa Pavilion open for “community use” until its future is resolved.

But councillors appear unlikely to change their mind over their decision to withdraw funding for the venue – yet are determined to find a new operator.

Suffolk Coastal’s cabinet will discuss the 905-seater venue on Tuesday after being asked to reconsider its decision by the council’s scrutiny committee, which wanted the cabinet to find a way to keep the theatre open to give volunteers longer to save it.

The Star’s Save Our Spa campaign has generated a public outcry and Geoff Holdcroft, cabinet member for economic development and leisure, stressed the authority does not want the Spa to close and wants to find a way of establishing a “new life” for the theatre.

“After hearing the debate and the views of the scrutiny committee, further talks with the current operator of the Spa Pavilion, Openwide Coastal Limited (OCL) have been scheduled,” said Mr Holdcroft.

“The purpose of this meeting will be to investigate how, for what period and at what cost could this council keep the Spa open for ‘community use’.

“A verbal report will be given to cabinet on the outcome of those discussions.”

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The aim will be to safeguard productions already booked by community groups such as the Dennis Lowe Theatre Company’s Christmas panto, and the Waiting for Christmas charity event booked for a seven-night run with 1,400 local children taking part.

There are also concerns that if the venue closes, it will begin to deteriorate while a new operator is sought.

The cabinet is recommended to reaffirm its intention to give OCL at least six months’ notice and seek a commercial operator that could develop the theatre to its full potential or as a different type of entertainment/leisure activity.

The council would also investigate the viability of setting up a trust, which could take over running the Spa.


n Why do you want the Spa to be saved? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN, or you can e-mail starletters@archant.co.uk