Last-ditch bid to save the Futurist in Scarborough

The Futurist in Scarborough
The Futurist in Scarborough
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CAMPAIGNERS have launched an audacious last-minute bid to try to persuade council bosses in Scarborough to give the axed Futurist Theatre a lifeline.

Senior councillors have already signed-off demolition plans for the much-loved seaside venue and given initial support to an alternative scheme for the site but campaigners have now submitted a businesses case to all of Scarborough Council’s members urging them to look again at the issue, arguing a scheme could still be considered which had the theatre at its heart.

Council bosses have previously ruled out keeping the venue open after failing to find a new operator and raising cost concerns – but despite the odds campaigners still hope at this late stage they can force a U-turn.

The Futurist Theatre, which was once one of the best known seaside venues in the country, playing host to names such as The Beatles closed its doors two years ago. Since then the council has supported Flamingo Land’s bid to build a resort attraction in place of the theatre and demolition plans have been agreed for The Futurist.

Patricia David, from the Save the Futurist group, said yesterday: “Myself and a lot of people believe that there’s a case for the theatre.

“Our hope is that this will put the issue back on the agenda – it’s a business case for what can be done on that site,” she said of the group’s proposals.

The business case argues The Futurist could re-open but says it should be revamped as a centre for the arts or the community which would mean the venue could be more flexible and host daytime events as well as in the evening.

It suggests incorporating shops, cafes, a nightspot, and major interactive tourist attraction, perhaps focusing on the history of the area and says council cash, grants and public fundraising could pay for the revamp.

Concerns have previously been raised about the significant cost of and viability of bringing the theatre back into use.

Coun Janet Jefferson (Independent, Castle) said she backed campaigners calls saying: “To me the future of the Futurist has to be considered.”

However, Coun David Jeffels who headed a task group six 
years ago to investigate the possibilities for the Futurist site, said: “This is prime site with considerable potential to enhance Scarborough’s image as a leading resort.

“The council marketed the extensive site both nationally and on mainland Europe but the interest was minimal.”

In October 1914 the council announced Flamingo Land would be the proposed bidder and developer of the site and, said Coun Jeffels, the authority was still in discussions on its ambitious plans to demolish the theatre and to build a roller coaster, botanical gardens and a 55 metre high lighthouse structure.

Detailed plans have still to be approved by the council, he added. “The council is anxious to see a scheme which will be a major asset to Scarborough’s holiday attractions.”

Coun Jeffels said Patricia David had worked tirelessly to retain the theatre complex.