Published: September 7, 2010
Bid to find new owner for Burnham's Princess abandoned

The future of Burnham-On-Sea’s Princess Theatre has been thrown into question after a shock Sedgemoor District Council announcement today (Tuesday, September 7th).

The council said in a statement that the procurement process to find a new owner had been abandoned.

"The possibility of achieving the independent operation of the Princess Hall in the current market was explored. Sedgemoor District Council wished to enter into an arrangement with a commercial, public sector or third sector operator to operate the facility and retain or enhance community use whilst reducing or, preferably, removing the need for any financial contribution from the Council," spokeswoman Claire Faun told Burnham-On-Sea.com.

"Three bidders submitted tenders to the Council, but all of the bids required significant financial support, which Sedgemoor District Council cannot provide."

She added: "Therefore, it is with regret that the current procurement process has been abandoned and the three bidders have been informed of that decision."

The Council now intends to look at alternative options for the Princess, although no details were given.

Tom Ashton from the Friends of The Princess group, which was among the three bidders, told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "We are very disappointed about the decision. We had exciting plans for the Princess that would have been good for Burnham."

And Friends member Ollie Hulme added: "The tender process has been abandoned halfway through during the draft proposal stage with no consultation and should at the very least have been allowed to come to a proper conclusion."

Among the bidders was S&D Cinemas, which runs Burnham's Ritz Cinema, and The Friends of The Princess, which currently runs the hall in conjunction with Sedgemoor District Council.

Sedgemoor District Council has been responsible for the Princess since a local Government re-organisation in 1974. The Princess was subject to a major refurbishment (costing £700,000 plus) in the mid 1990s, but has been a loss-making facility in recent years, sparking fears that it may close.

 


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