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The Rose: last night’s Scrutiny Panel

December 17, 2008

The Scrutiny Panel, which met last night, decided it could not endorse the Executive’s decision of last week to fund the Rose theatre to the tune of a further £600,000 a year plus foregoing interest on debts already owed to the Council simply on the say-so of seven Liberal Democrat councillors.

The Conservative group issued the following press release today:-

The Scrutiny Panel met last night to examine the decision by the Liberal Democratic Executive to fund the Rose Theatre to the tune of £1.8 million over the next three years. The Theatre Trust had offered services in exchange for the cash but there were serious doubts about the way in which the decision was reached. The Panel expressed concern about the lack of due diligence undertaken and the lack of alternative options being considered.

There are many services competing for money, which the council has a duty to consider before making what is hoped will be prudent financial decisions in the interests of the majority of the residents of the Borough.

Once again, the Lib Dems have put the Theatre at risk by not attacking this issue until the last minute, claiming that if the decision was not returned immediately to the Executive to rubber stamp the original decision that the Theatre would close in the New Year. The Conservatives have insisted that there is a full Council debate on the issue and in order to ensure this have called for such a debate to take place on Tuesday next week. The Panel wanted to ensure that before the Executive makes its mind up finally on this issue that there was an opportunity for all Councillors to have a say – in the interests of true democracy.

This expenditure will have an impact on funding for front line Council services over the next three years and the balance between spending on the theatre and other competing services such as old people’s welfare, street cleanliness, rubbish collection and education provision is a decision on which all Councillors should have the opportunity to contribute – not just the seven members of the Council’s Liberal Democrat Executive Committee.

Conservative Leader, Councillor Howard Jones said: “In difficult financial times, competing resource needs which require funding are some of the most difficult decisions that Councillors make. It is my belief that there are more deserving causes in the Borough that need this funding.”

Nick Kilby and Paul Johnston are both members of the Scrutiny Panel.

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