The only news website
dedicated to Lichfield & Burntwood

Opposition leader warns of “cosy” relationship between Conservative councillors and the Lichfield Garrick

The relationship between the Lichfield Garrick and Conservative councillors has been branded “too cosy” by the leader of the opposition group at Lichfield District Council.

The Lichfield Garrick
The Lichfield Garrick

The comments come after it emerged that councillors who will decide the future of taxpayer funding for the Lichfield Garrick will not need to formally declare an interest – even if they sit on the board of the theatre.

The confirmation came after it emerged that a number of councillors had not declared the post on their register of interests.

But Bal Nahal, monitoring officer at Lichfield District Council, insisted there was no need for councillors to declare their interest when decisions are made over whether to continue with the £250,000 a year payment to the venue.

“Councillors who are directors of the Lichfield Garrick Theatre Ltd are nominated annually by full council,” she said. 

“This is recorded in the minutes of the meeting and is a point of public record so does not need to be declared as an interest.”

“Eye-watering levels of funding”

But Cllr Sue Woodward, leader of the Labour opposition group at Lichfield District Council warned the relationship between both parties was becoming “too cosy”.

“Labour has repeatedly and consistently opposed the eye-watering levels of funding for the Garrick ever since it opened,” she said.

Cllr Sue Woodward
Cllr Sue Woodward

“It was a vanity project from a previous Conservative administration that has never fulfilled the initial promises.

“The Garrick is now an independent Trust and grant levels have reduced to some extent but they are still ridiculously high, especially when other council services are being cut to the bone.

“I love the Garrick personally and go there often but I don’t see why my entertainment should be subsidised by every household in the district – and that’s backed up by the responses of local residents in consultations. 

“There’s far too cosy a relationship between Tory district councillors and the Garrick.

“The failure of council representatives to declare their interests in the theatre properly and openly would seem to confirm this. Sadly, the theatre has become an extension of the Lichfield District Council bubble.

“On numerous occasions, I and my Labour colleagues have called for the Lichfield District Council leadership to ask the city council to pick up some of the tab as it’s the city which benefits most. Nothing has happened.”

Self-sufficient?

The confirmation comes after Lib Dem councillor Paul Ray called for a reduction in the amount of taxpayer funding spent on the venue.

He has called on the theatre to take steps to become more self-sufficient – including selling more food and drink – and insisted the controlling Conservative group must also keep up the pressure on Garrick bosses to “reduce their reliance” on the money.

But Cllr Woodward said the Lib Dems plans to make the theatre self-sufficient were out of touch.

“While I welcome the Lib Dems’ belated realisation of the unfairness of council tax payers’ money having been shovelled into the Garrick, they’ve been pretty quiet about it over the years.

“As for the three-point plan, the Garrick already has a commercial/sponsorship officer. I’m sure that hosting conferences will  already be one of their options.

“As far as his proposal that the Garrick should improve food and drink sales, they would have to sell a huge amount to make a profit – £250,000 to cover the Lichfield District Council grant.  

“The Lib Dem action plan isn’t just half-baked, it’s completely baked.”

A volunteer wrote this. Say thanks with a coffee.

Advertisements

Advertise here and reach 10,000 visitors every month!

Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

8 Comments

  1. Flossy

    11th February, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    Agreed Forward Leisure can run be trusted with the Garrick. They are a far better run not for profit group charity & at less cost etc.. They have a good track record elsewhere especially Stafford Gatehouse & Theatres down South. Saving min £100K PA just on a few duplicated salaries = less subsidy.

  2. Joanne Grange

    11th February, 2019 at 3:12 pm

    I’m surprised that the monitoring officer is saying being on the Garrick board doesn’t need to be disclosed on the register of interest forms, given section 2A of the form is specifically for membership, position of general control of management in “any body to which I have been appointed or nominated by the council”.

    This would seem to me to be a specific requirement of the form as it’s designed. I also thought the design of the form was as it is to ensure conformance with the Localism Act.

    For any reasonable reader of the form, any non-disclosure in this section which is specifically asking for details would be interpreted as there being no such positions to disclose. A reasonable reader of the form wouldn’t think “I know, best go and trawl every single set of meeting minutes to see who’s been nominated or appointed by the council to a body”.

    Surely a better answer, for the sake of transparency, would be to ensure that these positions are disclosed in line with the way the form is designed? Or maybe put a comment on the form that the contents of this particular section cannot be relied on as a full record?

  3. DS

    11th February, 2019 at 9:31 pm

    Isn’t the meeting to ascertain the next round of funding set for tomorrow .. a closed meeting I believe. The attendees and the outcome will make for an interesting read.

  4. Cllr Sue Woodward

    12th February, 2019 at 8:58 am

    It’s the Cabinet meeting and the budget discussions will be held in public. Anyone can attend, watch and listen. 6pm at Frog Lane, 12th Feb. Entrance via rear door.

  5. Ross

    12th February, 2019 at 10:47 am

    Item 9 about The Garrick is what’s now known as ‘doing a Friarsgate’ (ie, being put behind a press and public exclusion)

  6. John Griffiin

    12th February, 2019 at 5:05 pm

    Here we go again………………..

  7. Darryl Godden

    12th February, 2019 at 5:32 pm

    “But Cllr Woodward said the Lib Dems plans to make the theatre self-sufficient were out of touch.”

    Funny that, because when it comes to privatisation at a govermental level, the Tories are all for it.

    “While I welcome the Lib Dems’ belated realisation of the unfairness of council tax payers’ money having been shovelled into the Garrick, they’ve been pretty quiet about it over the years.”

    So?

    “As for the three-point plan, the Garrick already has a commercial/sponsorship officer. I’m sure that hosting conferences will already be one of their options.”

    Splendid.

    “As far as his proposal that the Garrick should improve food and drink sales, they would have to sell a huge amount to make a profit – £250,000 to cover the Lichfield District Council grant.”

    Make it a sliding scale of self-profitability then, no is suggesting you have to rip the plaster off.

  8. AgitatorofPeople

    14th February, 2019 at 4:09 pm

    The Tories have a new arts and entertainment space, and we paid £1.2 million of our public money to have it refurbished for them, they will say that St Marys had to raise the money for their bit (£100,000?) but that wouldnt have happened if the full renovation had not been funded with the money from the Friary sell off. Conveniently for local tories, it is under the control of St Marys Ltd, chaired by Nick Sedgewick the Lichfield Conservative campaign promoter.
    So if the Garrick goes south, they probably wont care, they have their shiney new arty venue and display case for rent and Lichfield will be even poorer and shabbier for the death of an artistic venue that has brought on so much of our local youth into the arts, how do you put a value on that?
    Just give it a while and a bit more closed door tory council management and the Garrick will be luxury retirement homes.

Leave a Reply