More details about extraordinary meeting to discuss future of Wellingborough theatre

The Castle in Wellingborough
The Castle in Wellingborough

More details about an extraordinary meeting discussing the future of a town theatre have been published.

Wellingborough Council will be discussing the future of The Castle theatre at a meeting tonight (Tuesday).

The Northants Telegraph reported on the forthcoming meeting last week, but a report prepared for councillors to discuss had not been published at the time.

However, this report has since been published on the council website with more details on what council members will be asked to consider.

The extraordinary meeting comes after The Castle (Wellingborough) Limited, which ran the theatre, was put into administration in April following the loss of its contract with Wellingborough Council.

Since then, administrators have been working to find a solution to secure the theatre’s long-term future.

Tonight’s meeting will see councillors asked to authorise officers to arrange a new contract or a new lease for a specified number of years.

They will also be asked to resolve that any organisation interested in undertaking this arrangement must be able to demonstrate a sound business plan, and that any contract or lease will include a clause requiring a specified level of community involvement and consultation to enable the provision of theatre/arts provision.

Further points they will be invited to resolve are:

- to agree to provide revenue funding for community arts services, within current budgets, constituting a payment in return for services, over the period of the contract/lease, at a level to be determined

- to commit capital finance up to but not exceeding £250,000 to make essential improvements to The Castle in its current configuration, following receipt of a condition survey

- to receive a further report to consider the long-term future of The Castle theatre, its potential development and its place within the town centre as a whole

The report says the administrator has received seven expressions of interest for taking over the business operations and two who are interested in the acquisition of the freehold.

Officers have had discussions with businesses, charities and community groups who either want to run the facility or work with others who will run it.

All discussions have ‘positively’ acknowledged that a range of skills will be required to make the venue a success, and a willingness to work with others, potentially under an umbrella management company.

The report also says: “It is proposed that the council seek to procure two solutions to the immediate future of The Castle: a commercial approach alongside a specified community involvement.

“A longer term plan can then be considered in due course.”

Tonight’s extraordinary meeting starts at 7pm at Swanspool House in Wellingborough.