As we see time and again, this government is off-loading problems and refusing to pick up the bill

webnexttech | As we see time and again, this government is off-loading problems and refusing to pick up the bill

A government minister has ruled out extra funding to help sort RAAC issues at the Forum Theatre in Romiley, Stockport. Lucy Frazer, the minister in charge of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, told the council that there are “no plans to provide additional public funding to address RAAC-related issues” despite calls for support. Councillors Lisa Smart and Frankie Singleton wrote to Ms Frazer asking for clarity on whether funding would be available for the theatre and other buildings impacted by dangerous concrete. READ MORE: Police called to Stockport’s new interchange just a DAY after opening The theatre has been closed since September, but a £300,000 payment from Stockport council is helping it to reopen. Campaigners from Free the Forum – a group working to get the theatre reopened – have been putting pressure on the town hall to complete the required work so performances can safely resume in the building. But the council’s work is just the first step, with more work needed in the long-term. Coun Smart said: “RAAC is a national issue, and all we wanted was for the government to pick up their fair share of the bill. I identified the funding that Stockport council have used to plug the gap and fund the first phase of works. “The local council are doing their bit to support the Forum, an incredibly important part of the local economy, and a place which lets so many children get their first taste of what a career in the arts could be. “As we see time and again, this government is off-loading its problems on to local councils, and refusing to pick up the bill. We have clearly shown that we are prepared to do our bit. Where’s the fairness?” Coun Singleton added: “We’re very disappointed in the lack of government support – not just for Romiley but for theatres and leisure venues up and down the country. “We didn’t expect the government to do anything so this doesn’t change the situation with Romiley Forum, but we are disappointed at the missed opportunity for the government to do the right thing.” Work has been ongoing to make the Forum Theatre safe, and Stockport council is in the final stages of confirming the contractor that will undertake the repair work. RAAC was first found in the building in 2017 during a refurbishment, and this was managed by the council in line with industry standards. The building’s closure led to the cancellation of a number of performances and cost NK Theatre Arts – the company operating the building – more than £50,000 in losses. NK Theatre Arts was previously awarded over £150,000 during the pandemic through the Culture Recovery Fund. It’s hoped that the theatre will reopen later this year. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport was contacted but declined to comment.

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