Adding to debate over future of landmark seaside theatre

From: Patricia David, Filey Road, Scarborough, North Yorkshire.

JOANNE Ginley’s report reflects accurately the feelings about the demolition of Scarborough’s Futurist Theatre (The Yorkshire Post, September 17). However, I would like to have an opportunity to present some points which were not made.

There were two major petitions carried out last year, but the council only acknowledged the validity of one. The largest one was requested in order to get the matter debated in full council. Once it had been validated by the council it required a minimum of 5,000 signatures from Scarborough ratepayers, together with people having businesses in Scarborough and people being educated in Scarborough.

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We obtained 6,600 valid signatures in the six weeks allowed by the council. Had we been allowed longer we would have collected thousands more. We did it to prove how many residents supported the Futurist being retained and renovated; therefore we believed the council would have to listen.

The other one was funded and published by the entertainment industry and was part of a national project to save local theatres, the “My Theatre Matters” Campaign. It was professionally produced, and 4,200 signatures were obtained during the 2013 summer season

Many of The Yorkshire Post’s readers will recognise this, as they were regular visitors to Scarborough and the Futurist, and over 2,000 signed our special cards, which were addressed to the council leader, and all were subsequently presented to him.

We spoke at length to each and every person. They will not be happy to hear that these cards were considered invalid because the petition had not been sanctioned by the council and particularly as it included visitors. It is sad that Scarborough Borough Council apparently do not recognise the value of visitors to the town.

With reference to the actual development, Joanne Ginley’s report refers to the theatre’s demolition. However what is not stated is that the only bid the council is considering covers the whole side of the cliff from the Town Hall down to the seaside, and states, as a condition of going forward, that the council should take responsibility for, and pay for, the demolition of all the existing buildings and structures, and re-stabilising the whole development area in preparation for building works.

This is a major project, and will cost the council over £1.5m. The sum of £600,000 would only cover the cost of demolishing the building itself.