Greens call for a properly funded budget to maintain and improve Redhill's Harlequin Theatre
18 April 2011
It should be no surprise that Conservative Councillors for Redhill are speaking up for the Harlequin (Council Meeting, April 14). But Greens argue that not all is as it seems...
Greens know just how much the residents in the area support the Harlequin. It's our local theatre, presenting films, concerts and touring bands. Local youth theatre and community groups rely on its facilities, and the council regularly hires rooms for public meetings. It's a true community asset -- just what local Councils are there to safeguard.
A number of Councillors including Green Councillor for Redhill East, Jonathan Essex, spoke out and voted for a properly funded budget to be drawn up as part of the Borough's Corporate Plan.
Instead, the Tories cast about for "savings" until they'd found enough for a month's worth of overdue maintenance in August.
So it's a pity the Tories' "additional investment" turns out to be around half a million short of the council's own estimate of how much the job will cost, £1.4 million.
Why the hurry? Could it be there's an election due? Sarah Finch Green Party Candidate for Redhill East has said "The Tories' mid-election announcement of cash for the Harlequin - two months after the budget process when this cash did not figure - smacks of desperation. Greens and others are calling for a sustainable approach to maintaining and improving the Harlequin, including working with partners such as the Harlequin User Group and outside caterers."
Local people remember that it's only been a couple of years since a very successful petition reminded the Tories how much people value the Harlequin, and how they want their Council to maintain it properly.
Properly refurbished, the Harlequin should be good for another 20 years. Patched up on half rations, perhaps the Tories will again be trying to close it within five years.
Councillor Essex proposed the full funding be provided through a long-term partnership between the Council and local community groups, as has worked so successfully at the Playhouse in Epsom and at Fairfield Halls in Croydon.
Phil Wilson, Green Candidate for Redhill West commented, “Tories locally seem to have a fetish for short term fixes. From Surrey's pothole repairs to the still insufficient funding for the Harlequin, they seem not to grasp the concept of building to last.”
Notes to Editor
- The Conservative Group’s statement on their decision can be found here http://www.redhillcouncillors.co.uk/2011/04/council-commits-additional-investment-into-harlequin-despite-opposition/
- The Surrey Mirror article published on 14th April can be found here http://www.thisissurreytoday.co.uk/news/Harlequin-saved-thanks-council-s-163-939k-plans/article-3443092-detail/article.html
- Those voting in favour were the Tory Group, those voting against the main proposal but for the amendment which would have still seen essential maintenance works carried out, were the Residents’ Association councillors, 1 Independent, and Conservative Councillors who resigned from the local conservative group last week, and Redhill’s Green Councillor.
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Surrey Green Party Press Office
07597 749 953