Princess Theatre 'made loss of £27k in last six months'
Princess Theatre has made a loss of £27,439 during the six
months since the Town Council took on its ownership earlier this
year, it has emerged this week.
council's Princess Management Committee said this week it expects
the deficit to reach over £66,000 by March 2012.
figures were revealed during a Town Council meeting on Wednesday
(November 9th), which has prompted fresh questions about the financial
viability of the building - particularly with £60,000 of
exterior improvements being planned.
However, Cllr Chris Williams, Vice Chairman of the Princess Management
Committee, told the meeting: "The Princess is performing
considerably better than under its former owner, Sedgemoor District
Council, which had an annual deficit of £102,000."
"When you remove our initial set-up costs of £7,338,
the actual operating deficit was £20,101 in the first six
months. We had a net income of £14,352 during the period
and are still within our budget, and continuing to cut costs."
Clerk Eileen Shaw added: "The Town Council knew when it took
on the ownership of The Princess that one of Sedgemoor's conditions
was that it has to be used as a facility for the community, not
solely for profit."
Mike Mansfield said he has concerns about the figures: "I
wouldn't want to operate at that level of deficit for long."
But Cllr Williams responded: "We all knew it wouldn't be
plain sailing straight away."
Princess Management Committee intends to spend £60,000 on
external improvements to the building, mainly the roof, "to
ensure it remains watertight and safe."
Plans for new solar
panels on the roof costing £30,000 are also proceeding,
with work to submit a planning application underway, however the
installation is likely to be delayed.
Mrs Shaw explained: "We might postpone the work in light
of recent changes to the level of funding that the government
will give people with solar panels. We're waiting for an expert's
report on the viability before going ahead."
Cllr Dennis Davey added: "In light of the possible reduction
in income from the government, I'd question whether we still want
to go ahead. I'm concerned that the money could be better used
inside The Princess."
But Cllr Helen Groves responded that the £30,000 allocated
to the solar panels "is not a gift to The Princess to be
diverted towards internal building improvements - it has been
allocated specifically for the solar panels."
The Town Clerk said any change to the expenditure would come
back to the full Town Council to be considered.
Meanwhile, The Princess is pushing ahead with plans for a number
of extra income-generating community activities, including holding
weddings and a community theatre production.
Cllr Paul Young said: "The building has enormous potential.
It is a greatly under-rated venue."
Burnham-On-Sea.com first reported earlier this year on the transferal
of ownership of The Princess from Sedgemoor District Council
to Burnham and Highbridge Town Council. The District Council sold
The Princess for the nominal sum of £1.