Battle for future of theatre

Lowther Pavilion'Lytham Beer Festival
Lowther Pavilion'Lytham Beer Festival
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A COMMUNITY group has revealed it wants to take control of a local theatre as it has no confidence in the board of trustees running it.

The Friends of Lowther has announced it is interested in running Lytham’s Lowther Pavilion alongside the owners Fylde Council.

The council is due to hand control of the theatre to a board of trustees, but the takeover has been hit by delays and the friends group said it has “no confidence” in the board.

They claim they could do a better job themselves, but the local authority has warned them it believes the idea is a “non-starter”.

A spokesman for the friends group, which hopes to become a charity, said: “The Friends of Lowther have put in a request they run the pavilion alongside the council and we voted on that at our meeting last week.

“There was a unanimous decision. We don’t have any confidence in the trustees at present and the friends know we could do a better job.

“The trustees haven’t really achieved what we thought they were going to do, and we don’t think that’s because of the council.

“The takeover hasn’t moved on at all because the council haven’t given them the finances to proceed.”

The trust’s five-year business plan was due to be approved by cabinet last month and the takeover ratified by full council, but the issue was sent to a scrutiny committee and the plan – which calls for an extra £222,000 ploughed in to running the theatre – has yet to be given the go-ahead.

Tim Lince, the chairman of the trustees, said the only thing standing between the trustees and taking control of the theatre was cashflow.

He said: “It’s not a case of whether the trust are managing the theatre, it’s just the level of subsidy we’re working on with the council.

“The council and trust are continuing to work together.”

As it stands, the trust employs the theatre’s manager and some casual staff, but the council is in control of the finances and the pavilion has not formally been handed over to the trust.

But Coun Sue Fazackerley, a trustee and the council’s cabinet member for leisure and tourism, said: “It’s a non-starter.

“The trust is in-situ and the trust runs the theatre.

“I can’t understand this suggestion, we’re happy for them to work with the trust and they are a tremendous support but as far as the running of Lowther is concerned that’s in the hands of the trust.”

Coun Fazackerley added the relationship between the trust and amateur groups was being examined by a council working group after complaints from am dram producers that the prices had risen, making the venue unaffordable to all but professional outfits.

The trust hopes the takeover could be completed early in the new year.