England

Cuts threat to 400 jobs and civic theatre in Darlington

Image caption Darlington Civic Theatre may be forced to close

More than 400 council jobs are set to go and a 107-year-old theatre could close in Darlington because of the effects of government spending cuts.

The Labour-controlled authority said it would have to cut £22m from its annual budget of about £107m by 2014.

Among the proposals is an end to the £1m-a-year subsidy to the town's historic civic theatre, which will mean its closure if a buyer cannot be found.

A final decision on which posts are likely to go will be taken in January.

A council spokesman said: "The council has already saved £15m from its budget over the last four years by becoming more efficient and we will continue to review the way we work.

"The cuts we are proposing will affect people across the borough and we understand what an anxious time this is for many, including our own staff.

"Whatever is decided we will work hard to ensure the most vulnerable people in our society are cared for and protected."

The spokesman said it was unfortunate that the cuts could lead to the closure of Darlington Civic Theatre, which first opened in 1907.

He added: "We need to find new ways to shape and deliver a cultural offer in Darlington that is both affordable and responsive to the interests and aspirations of people across the community.

"We are preparing to withdraw the subsidy from the Civic Theatre and the Arts Centre, this may lead to their closure.

"We will look to see if it is possible to sell the theatre as a going concern with the aspiration that it will fulfil a similar purpose without subsidy.

"If this cannot be achieved the proposal is the theatre will close."

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