Tees

Extra cash for Stockon Globe theatre revamp approved

The Globe Theatre, Stockton
Image caption The venue closed in 1993 after being used as a bingo hall since 1977

A council's plan to borrow millions of pounds so an over-budget renovation of an Art Deco theatre can be completed has been backed in a four-hour meeting.

Work to transform Stockton's Globe Theatre had an initial budget of £4m, but the figure has risen to £26.75m.

Stockton Council's move to borrow an extra £6.5m was last week "called in".

However, members of the scrutiny committee backed the plan by nine votes to six on Monday.

While some money has come from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the council's share of the total is now £22m - having initially allocated just £1m.

The Grade II-listed venue's reopening has been delayed until November 2020 having been put back by a year.

Nick Corrigan, director of contractor Willmott Dixon, told the meeting he was "100%" confident the project will meet its latest deadline.

Problems with the roof, steel work, asbestos and the foundations have all previously delayed and added to the cost of the scheme.

Image copyright Stockton Council
Image caption Supports say the revamped venue will draw people from Stockton and surrounding areas

Project director Paul Dobson told councillors regeneration firm Jomast "gave it a real go" between 2002 and 2016 before the council took on the project. 

He told the committee the authority, which is under no overall control, had not taken on the scheme for "commercial return" but to "add to the night-time economy".

Supporters believe it will bring 200,000 visitors to the town annually, providing an £18m boost each year.

But councillor Matt Vickers, Conservative group leader, told the meeting he had doubts about the figures and ticket sale forecasts, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

"It's a huge sum of public money - the numbers looked flawed," he said.

Thornaby Independent councillor Ian Dalgarno warned the authority it had "lost a lot of credibility in this project".

The venue will be operated by the Ambassador Theatre Group, which has signed a 25-year lease agreement with the council.

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