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Photo – Emily and Enjoy Sutton Banner


Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Sutton and Cheam, Emily Brothers has attacked Lib Dem Sutton Council plans to cut local cultural and heritage facilities. She said:
“I’m appalled by the Lib Dem Goon Show, known as Sutton’s Future, as it is treating local people with ridicule. They are stage managing sweeping cuts, failing to get their act together to effectively transfer cultural facilities as community assets.
“We have a clash of posters around the town centre. Some publicise a Sutton Future without cultural facilities, whilst others tell us to Enjoy Sutton. It is the kind of absurd logic that Harry Secombe would have played out in the Goon Show.
“What the Lib Dems propose isn’t very funny though. They plan to bring the curtains down on our flagship cultural venue, yet continue with the empty rhetoric that surrounds the Lib Dem Life Centre. We pay £6.84 in subsidy per visitor to the Secombe Theatre, whereas it costs us £25.98 for each person using the Sutton Life Centre - many from outside the borough.
“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 without this kind of facility; it will become just yet another bleak suburb that lacks character.
“If the Lib Dem Council hadn’t failed so miserably to promote The Secombe Theatre, they may have avoided such drastic action. Sadly, I’m not surprised things have come to this passing. Indeed, there will be worse to come, as the Lib Dem leadership break promise after promise.
“Closures of this kind will have a serious impact on the local economy. People won’t be using the pubs, restaurants and shops before or after going to the theatre, and car parking revenue will also be lost when these facilities close. The loss of the Secombe Theatre will be another reason for not bringing the tram to Sutton. It is also another reason for people not to vote Lib Dem again.
“The latest plans show the so called consultation to be nothing other than subterfuge. Their own research says how much local people value cultural venues, but Lib Dem leaders continue to fail to listen.”

Notes to Editors
1. The Secombe Theatre – named after Sir Harry Secombe of The Goon Show - is predicted to have 47,500 users in 2014-5, with a budget of £325,000 for the year. Sutton Council is reported to be providing a subsidy of £6.84 per visitor. The proposed closure will save Sutton Council £210,000 from 2015-16.
2. The Goon Show was a British radio show that started in 1951 and ran until 1960. It changed the face of British comedy and still maintains its influence to this day. The Goons included Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe. They burst onto the radio with surreal storylines, absurd logic, puns, catchphrases and groundbreaking sound effects. They ridiculed the pomposity of those in authority and laughed at the stupidity of mankind. Characters such as Ned Seagoon, Eccles, Bluebottle, Major Bloodnok, Minnie Bannister, Henry Crun, Grytpype-Thynne and Moriarty all helped to create an alternative and ludicrous view of the world.
3. The borough’s other theatre, The Charles Cryer is forecast to have 14,000 visitors in 2014-15, with a budget £157,000 this year. A subsidy of £11.21 is applied to each user. The proposed closure will result in £70,000 savings per year.
4. The Life Centre is estimated to have 137,976 users in 2014-15, supported by a £329,000 budget. There are only 12,695 (just 9.2%) paying users. The subsidy is estimated to be £25.98 per user.
5. Sutton Council’s Bi-ennial Residents Survey (2013) and Online Residents Survey on Culture) conducted from December 2013) and evidence collected on cultural groups, private venues and best practice research found that:
     • 91% of people said it is important to have cultural venues in the area;
     • 99.5% of residents thought it is important to have cultural offerings in the borough;
     • 96.7% of residents think that culture makes a difference to the area where they live.

Photo – Emily Brothers at Secombe Theatre


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