BREAKING NEWS: The Hazlitt Theatre is saved from closure
Tuesday 26th January 2021
THE Hazlitt is SAVED - and that is official.
Councillors tonight agreed to retain the contract with Parkwood Leisure, which runs the venue for Maidstone Borough Council, with a review in April.
All members of the Economic, Regeneration and Leisure agreed unanimously to the dramatic U-turn of a decision taken last November to mothball the Hazlitt and possible termination of the Parkwood contract.
Tory borough councillor Jonathan Purle, who orchestrated the overturning of the original decision which led to tonight's result, said: "I'm pleased so much of the extra work we'd asked for in my motion back in November has been undertaken by the council and we now seem to have a plan for sustaining the theatre for the future.
"I'm particularly pleased by tonight's commitment to reboot the relationship with the theatre's operators and the unanimous nature of tonight's resolutions.
"This shows why everybody who protested at the original decision - those who signed petitions, lobbied councillors and spoke at meetings - and those councillors who supported our challenge to that decision were right to do so."
The threat of closure was met with a massive public outcry and Downs Mail led the way in opposition to the plans with social media camapign which attracted more than 5,000 followers.
Late last year, MBC's senior leadership argued to lose Parkwood in the face of £2m of cuts needed as a result of revenues hit by COVID-19.
Critics of the plan warned if the Hazlitt was closed, even temporarily, it was unlikely to reopen and Parkwood's expertise would be lost.
Chairman Paul Harper said: "We have reached a good way forward to reboot our relationship with Parkwood."
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