Council "torpedoed" talks claims theatre group

By Newsdesk   |   Newsdesk   |
Sunday 27th June 2021 3:00 pm
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CAMPAIGNERS hoping to preserve the Alexandra Theatre in Newton Abbot say they feel they have been ‘snubbed’ after Teignbridge Council chose not to attend a meeting over the future of the theatre building.  

A meeting was brokered by Newton Abbot Town Council for Teignbridge and Friends of the Alexandra Theatre to get around the table earlier this month. Teignbridge Council however, felt such a meeting to be unnecessary, given that the plans were now going ahead. 

Town Mayor Mike Joyce said he thought it ‘disappointing’ he couldn’t get both sides in the same room. 

Andrew Malcolm, of Friends of the Alex Theatre, said he was shocked by the news that the district council didn’t feel the matter was worthy of a sit-down. 

He said: ‘Friends of the Alexandra Theatre welcomed the chance to present our business case in person, and to address any questions that may have arisen from the presentation.’

 He added: ‘It would have been the first significant opportunity to present our viable alternative to the wanton destruction of The Alexandra Theatre.’

Malcolm accused Teignbridge Council of ‘torpedoing’ the opportunity without debate.

The campaigner added:‘They quote that their plans were approved under a democratic vote process with the full council on April 22.

‘This, we believe, was obtained following deliberate misrepresentations of the parties’ intentions and positions, including our own plans and those of the council, to the wider council membership.

‘It was stated that further consultation would take place regarding the plans once the funding was obtained. 

‘This is simply not true and clearly indicates that any future discussions will be on the council’s plans and those alone.’

Malcolm said that a Memorandum of Understanding offered by Teignbridge Council leader, Cllr Alan Connett, was not signed as it resembled a ‘surrender document’.

He added: ‘We were not prepared to put our names to this document in its current form, as would anyone wishing to save the theatre as it is... a theatre.’  

Teignbridge Council says the plans are part of the Future High Streets fund and that looking at one single building in isolation was impossible given that the plans were going ahead.

A spokesman for Teignbridge Council said that under these ‘transformational’ plans which have gained government support and been approved by the Council,  there are no plans for the Alexandra Cinema to be retained as a separate building and the proposed discussions would raise false expectations that these might change. 

The spokesman said: ‘We cannot look at one part of the regeneration plans in isolation, because they form a comprehensive package of interlinking transformational works which re-establish the historic landmark building back to its original form as the focal point for the Markets Quarter, establish a new purpose built cinema and improve Queen Street and cycle routes in the town. 

‘Our focus now is on implementing the regeneration project and we will engage with key stakeholders such as the town council, local businesses and market traders, local arts and performance groups on the detailed design of the approved plans.’

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