East Lindsey arts festival and leisure services handed to trust

Skegness Image copyright So Festival
Image caption East Lindsey District Council currently spends about £350,000 on its annual events programme

A council in Lincolnshire has handed over control of an arts festival and other leisure services to a charitable trust in a bid to save money.

East Lindsey District Council claimed the move would save at least £1m over five years and allow new funding to be accessed.

Magna Vitae Trust will take over the running of services from 1 January.

These include the Skegness So Festival, the town's Embassy Theatre and Louth's Meridian Leisure Centre.

Councillor Adam Grist, portfolio holder for culture, leisure and tourism, said: "The decision to hand over these services was a difficult one but was ultimately the right one to make for the continued development of these services."

He said it will allow Magna Vitae to access grants, which are not available to the authority.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Embassy Theatre, in Skegness, is among the services handed over to Magna Vitae

The council has seen a £1.9m (13.9%) cut in central government funding this financial year, on top of £1.2m the previous year.

It said the Meridian Leisure Centre, which only opened in 2010, currently required a £250,000 annual subsidy.

About £350,000 is spent on its events programme, which includes the So Festival.

Magna Vitae managing director Mark Humphreys, who was previously responsible for overseeing the services within the council, said in the first instance it would be "business as usual".

But he said people would see better services in the long run.

"There are many more opportunities for a charitable trust to work with partners and encourage people to take up physical activity and get involved with the arts," he added.

As well as access to grants, charitable status brings business rates and VAT relief.

The trust, which will receive a management fee from the council, will also run services in Horncastle, Mablethorpe and Sutton on Sea.

East Lindsey said the fee would reduce over time as Magna Vitae secured other funding.

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