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Photograph – Emily Outside the Secombe Theatre After the “Our House” Performance

A petition of 1,273 signatories seeking to rescue the Secombe Theatre from closure was presented by Emily Brothers at last night’s Environment and Neighbourhoods Committee of Sutton Council. Although Ms Brothers is the Labour Party’s Parliamentary Candidate for Sutton and Cheam, she presented her petition on a non-party political basis. The initiative was designed to demonstrate cross community opposition to the proposed closure of the Secombe Theatre.
The petition calls for more feasibility time to help bidders develop their plans and set in train any transitional arrangements. The lead taken by Ms Brothers and other local campaigners for more time was recently backed by Sajid Javid MP, Conservative Secretary of State for Media, Culture and Sport.

Addressing Councillors and members of the public, Ms Brothers said:
“The Secombe Theatre is more than just a building. It is a community hub that brings people, groups and schools together for enjoyment. It is a place that provides identity to our community and being without such a facility the borough would become just another bleak suburb.
“Securing the future of the Secombe Theatre will help a variety of performing arts to flourish, strengthen the borough’s cultural offer and develop local talent.
“I was privilege recently to join other residents to see ‘Our House’ – so aptly and ironically named. That experience reinforced the value of a local theatre – to close it would truly be “Madness’.
“I welcome the shift from the proposed closure at the last meeting, to a serious consideration of four proposals to run the Secombe Theatre under community ownership. The change of emphasis is positive.”
The Environment and Neighbourhoods Committee agree to proceed with the development of enhanced bids, holding off a decision to (15/01/15) early next year. Councillors accepted Ms Brothers’ view that further subsidy would be needed in 2015/16 to assist with transitional arrangements, as transfer of assets would take longer than their original plan to close the theatre.

Following the meeting, Emily Brothers added:
“I’m really pleased that a constructive way forward now seems very feasible. It shows that politicians can work together for a common good, engaging with community groups for the benefit of everybody. I’m grateful to council members and officers for responding to my campaign to save the Secombe Theatre so pragmatically.
“There is still a long way to go. There is no time for complacency, as the pace to develop proposals is demanding. Whilst commercial confidentiality is respected, I hope that bidders will now feel able to engage with local people about their plans. I trust they’ll also be open to enter into partnership, if that what will bring about a sustainable future for the Secombe Theatre.
“Some members from our community are demonstrating a tremendous commitment to local performing arts and culture. This is resourceful and brings significant risks, so not something take up lightly. I thank those interested parties for their endeavours on our behalf.”

As of 14.30 on 07/11/14 , 349 people had signed the online petition.













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