Agenda item

Motion submitted by Councillor J Kent


The Motion, as printed in the agenda was proposed by Councillor J Kent and seconded by Councillor Worrall. The Motion read as follows:


Council calls on cabinet to retain the Thameside Complex as a hub for arts, culture, and heritage for the community of Thurrock to own.


Councillor J Kent presented the motion by stating that Thameside had opened its doors in 1971, was a professional theatre and was a great opportunity for those performing in there. Alongside the museum gallery there were thousands of artifacts that were not on display but stored within the complex. The library was the borough’s central library with a purpose-built children’s library and moving that into another building filled him with dread. Councillor J Kent welcomed the comments made by Councillor M Coxshall in that he was passionate about Thameside and would not want Thameside lost to the borough of Thurrock and saw this as a sign that there was a future for Thameside.


Councillor Pothecary acknowledged the number of Thurrock residents outside the building this evening saying they want the Thameside complex to be retained and saved for the community. The residents of Thurrock deserved a theatre, museum, art space and a central library. That closing the Thameside would send the message that the cultural learning heritage and arts were not for the likes of Thurrock residents. The Thameside complex was for the community, should be given to the community and that each member had a choice.


Councillor Kerin stated residents wanted a purposeful theatre for Thurrock and had concerns that once the theatre had gone, it would be gone for ever. He referred to the purpose-built children’s library and questioned whether following all the budget cuts a new dedicated library would be built if it were to close. The library was equal to all and requested that when cabinet make any decision on Thameside they make that decision for future generations and libraries were a key part of the rise of new generations.


Councillor M Coxshall recognised the passion and stated outcomes for the community were better services, fewer buildings and gave a guarantee there was a need for a cultural hub with a central library and a good museum. There were monies in the capital programme for a library and a new museum and needed to look how this could be achieved through the process alongside the live, work and play agenda of the Local Plan. To use this as the opportunity to understand the best place, what it should look like and what could be undertaken to deliver the cultural offering in the centre of Grays with a good leisure facility. Councillor M Coxshall stated he could not support this motion this evening but promised Cabinet would move forward on this and deliver.


Councillor Redsell stated the current Thameside complex was not fit for purpose and residents of Thurrock needed a better building with better facilities and would not be supported the motion this evening.


Councillor Abbas stated Thameside complex was on the agenda for Corporate Overview and Scrutiny next week and requested that committee undertook the appropriate scrutiny on the report. Councillor Abbas stated the Thameside complex was 50 years old and required significant repairs and maintenance with costs that would total over £18m. He was opposed to the motion as this did not value transformation or innovation.


Councillor C Kent stated her support for the motion and all members were here this evening to make the lives of Thurrock residents better and all members should have engaged with those residents outside the building this evening to understand why they want the Thameside complex to remain open. Councillor C Kent stated, from experience, she did not have confidence in the promise of a new theatre being built and urged members to support the motion to keep the Thameside complex open.


Councillor Ralph stated the recommendation proposed for Corporate Overview and Scrutiny next week did not include the decision to close or sell the Thameside building which he felt was a great step forward. For 20 years he had been campaigning for a better area to enable those artifacts to be on display. That plans would need to be worked on for the proposal to move the library to the CO2 building and stood by his comment that Thameside should remain as a theatre but as the motion this evening had moved on following statements made this evening he would not be in support.


Councillor Byrne questioned why the community and culture portfolio holder was not prepared to speak with residents this evening to understand their views and questioned as portfolio holder what he done for residents of Thurrock.


Councillor D Arnold stated the administration were being accused of not listening, open and transparent but herself and Councillor M Coxshall, as part of cabinet, when a paper was presented on the closure of Thameside, had stood up to challenge and to seek options. Councillor Snell had been part of working group looking at the maintenance and repairs required of the Thameside complex. Herself had spoken to groups at the theatre explaining the process being undertaken, formed a round-the-table discussion group where other conservative members had attended, helped those submit community bids and stated members wanted to see a better offer for the community with better arts and culture facilities and therefore would be supporting the leader in his decisions and would continue to listen and talk to residents.


Councillor Maney stated there was a reoccurring theme from the Labour group with impassionate pleas and displays of emotion but with no substance, he referred to the Section 151 comments of the motion that maintenance costs would be around £18m to £20m and asked the Labour group where they expect that money to come from and asked that they come forward with a plan that made this economically and sustainable viable.


Councillor Worrall stated that the recreation of the facilities offered by the library could not be recreated in civic offices. The museum artifacts, some gifted to the library needed to be preserved properly and not just boxed up and moved but more importantly she wanted to give every child that experience of walking through the theatre front door and feel that excitement. Councillor Worrall questioned where the money would come from to pay for a new cultural hub and the effects of shutting the theatre on all those groups was not acceptable, the theatre should be given to the community as they cared and urged all members to do the right thing this evening and vote for the motion. Councillor Worrall also stated that until an alternative building had been identified, Thameside should remain open.


Councillor J Kent summed up by stating his disappointment and had clearly noted Councillor M Coxshall comment that he was “passionate about it and did not want it lost to the borough of Thurrock”; Councillor J Kent remembered the time when Councillor Abbas had stood outside with the protestors; agreed with Councillor Ralph’s comments but stated having the library, museum and theatre together would give extra capacity in this type of cultural hub. In regard to Councillor Arnold’s comment, he stated we had a better arts and culture offer coming with million pounds coming through the creative people and place bid. Although much of that bid would be based around having Thameside as that base. Referred to the comments made by Councillor Maney and did not accept the estimate of £18m to £20m of capital works needed with much of those costs did not need to be done, for example lifting and raising of the roof. The pantomime this year had taken over a quarter of million pounds, although not profile had demonstrated that a proper run building, proper run bar, proper concessions and extra big shows a year could drive the revenue which would make the theatre complex work. Councillor J Kent summed up by stating there were business plans and bids on the table that would not need a subsidy, and these should be looked at more closely.


Councillor J Kent requested a requisition vote.


For: Councillors John Allen, Chris Baker, Gary Byrne, Daniel Chukwu, Victoria Holloway, Cathy Kent, John Kent, Martin Kerin, Steve Liddiard, Fraser Massey, Sara Muldowney, Srikanth Panjala, Jane Pothecary, Sue Shinnick, Jennifer Smith and Lynn Worrall (16)


Against: Councillors Qaisar Abbas, Alex Anderson, Deborah Arnold, Paul Arnold, Adam Carter, Gary Collins, George Coxshall, Mark Coxshall, Jack Duffin, James Halden, Shane Hebb, Andrew Jefferies, Barry Johnson, Tom Kelly, Susan Little, Ben Maney, Allen Mayes, Augustine Ononaji, Maureen Pearce, Shane Ralph, Joycelyn Redsell, Graham Snell, Luke Spillman and James Thandi (24)


The Mayor announced the motion lost.

Supporting documents: