Updated: February 17, 2011
Future of Burnham-On-Sea's Princess Theatre is secured

The future of Burnham-On-Sea's Princess Theatre has been secured, Sedgemoor District Council announced on Wednesday (February 16th).

From April, Burnham and Highbridge Town Council is to enter into a 125-year lease agreement with Sedgemoor District Council to take over and operate the building at a 'peppercorn rent' of £1 per year.

Sedgemoor is to give a 'transitional subsidy' of £90,000 to the Town Council to enable it to make improvements to the closure-threatened building, thereby helping it to increase its use and income.

Cllr Peter Burridge-Clayton, Chairman of the Town Council's Princess Task and Finish Group, told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "This is a good example of partnership working. The Princess is an excellent facility with great potential."

"With the improvements we have in mind and a marketing manager in place, I feel that exciting times are ahead."

"With more local input and ownership, I am certain this can only mean a better future for the Princess and the benefit it provides for our community."

Burnham-On-Sea.com also reported last week that the town council had earmarked £70,000 of funds towards taking on The Princess.

Teresa Harvey, Group manager of Community Development of Wellbeing, added: "This is the result of hard work and agreement between both parties that this is a valued community facility within the town."

"We are pleased that the negotiations have been successful and the facility will remain a building for the community to utilise. The transitional funding from Sedgemoor will be used to improve the facilities and provide a future for the Princess and its users."

The deal comes after a resolution was passed last December at a Burnham and Highbridge Town Council meeting when representatives from Sedgemoor District Council and the Town Council met to form a task and finish group to secure the future of the Princess for community use. Negotiations went well and an agreement has been reached in principle between both parties.

Subject to legal work and a satisfactory condition survey, April 2011 will see Burnham and Highbridge Town Council to take over and run the facilities. The decision has been welcomed by members of the town council's working party, comprising Cllr Michael Clarke, Cllr Chris Williams, Cllrs Pollard and Cllr Smout.

It ends a long-running saga over the future of the building. Burnham-On-Sea.com reported on the district council's surprise decision to pull the plug on its procurement process to find a new owner last September here.

Among the bidders for the building were S&D Cinemas, which runs Burnham's Ritz Cinema, and The Friends of The Princess, which has operated the hall in conjunction with Sedgemoor District Council. Sedgemoor District Council has been responsible for the loss-making Princess Theatre since a local Government re-organisation in 1974, but its current financial position means it can no longer afford to run it.

Mike Lang, from the Friends of The Princess, told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "We are all relieved that the future of this 'jewel in the crown' for Burnham has finally been secured."

Pictured above are members of the celebrating Princess Working Party

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