Repairing theatre ‘not a viable option’

Congress Theatre and Towner Contempory Art Gallery. Compton Street 15 August 2011. E33277M.JPG
Congress Theatre and Towner Contempory Art Gallery. Compton Street 15 August 2011. E33277M.JPG

SCAFFOLDING on the Congress Theatre was the topic of a heated debate at a council meeting this week.

Tory councillors criticised the Lib Dem administration for leaving the scaffolding on the town’s theatre for more than three years.

Cllr Barry Taylor raised the issue at the full council meeting at Eastbourne Town hall on Wednesday night (September 19).

He said visitors were coming back year after year to see the Congress Theatre had not changed.

Cllr Taylor said, “Don’t tell me people are happy with the scaffolding because they are not.”

He pleaded with the council and said, “Come on, let’s get it done. It has been stuck there for three years so let’s get it done.”

The scaffolding went up after concrete from the building started to drop from a great height.

Cllr Troy Tester said repairing it was not a viable option because it would keep happening again and again.

He said, “It is by the sea so it has corroded and if we repair it, we will have to keep paying it.

“It will be in an never ending black hole for the residents’ money because we are going to have to keep stuffing money in to it year after year after year.”

Cllr Neil Stanley, the cabinet member for tourism, said the council was faced with a difficult decision when concrete started to fall from the theatre.

He said, “We thought, why spend that money and be left with a building that was the same as it was in the first place.

“We want to make it better.”

Cllr Stanley said The Congress Theatre formed part of The Devonshire Park Project which includes all the theatres and will aim to make the Devonshire Park more popular with top tennis players and as a recreation area outside the tennis season.

He said work on the Congress would form part of the big project and explained there were currently meetings taking place.

But the Tories said the scaffolding was costing money and Cllr Patrick Warner said he thought it was ‘disgraceful to carry on in this way’.