Green Light for Watersmeet
(24th October 2003)
The Watersmeet Trust has got the go ahead. At a public meeting this evening (Monday, 20 October) Three Rivers District Council offered the Trust a long lease on the Watersmeet theatre building, its fixtures and fittings for a pepper corn rent, with regular reviews. The lease will start on 1 April 2004.
In spite of its financial difficulties, Three Rivers District Council has offered guaranteed subsidies for the first three years - £130K the first year, £100K the second year and £80K the third year. The Trust will have total control of the programme, hirings and prices.
Council Leader Cllr Ann Shaw said: " The cost of Watersmeet has been a problem for years but last December's government grant decision was the last straw, the £500K per year costs was no longer sustainable.
"There was no alternative to closure at the time but that decision brought forward a group of people who were prepared to do something. In February we agreed to give them a chance to work out a way forward. Since then Three Rivers staff and councillors have worked hard with the Trust to achieve that way ahead.
"Three Rivers' financial position is no better now, indeed it is worse as the Government has now confirmed its intention to snatch away most of our capital receipts. But we recognise the Trust's need for support at the start and we are therefore making a very unusual commitment to guarantee a subsidy for the first three years, meeting their full financial request for the first two years.
"We sincerely wish the Trust success. Our financial commitment is proof of that."
Cllr Whately-Smith, Cabinet member for Leisure said, in support of the
"It will not be easy, but two business plans and many meetings later we feel the Trust should have this opportunity. It is a very exciting challenge and a chance to work with the community to sustain this leisure venue for local people. We wish them good luck".
Richard Jones, Chairman of the Watersmeet Trust said: "I am delighted by the support and encouragement of the Council and look forward to the success of the Trust. It is not the end but the beginning. It is now vital that the community comes out in support of Watersmeet both by becoming a Friend of Watersmeet and by supporting the events. We need £150,000 of cash and pledges by 1 April if Watersmeet is to have a long-term future and we can't do this without the support of the community."