Stockton Globe Theatre: Plan for extra £6.5m faces scrutiny

The Globe Theatre, Stockton
Image caption The Globe Theatre closed in 1997 having been used as a bingo hall since 1977

A council's plan to borrow £6.5m, so an already over-budget renovation of an Art Deco theatre can be completed, is to face additional scrutiny.

Work on Stockton's Globe Theatre began in 2011 with a budget of £4m being shared between Stockton Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

But structural problems have pushed the bill up to £26.5m, with the council's share rising from £1m to £22m.

The plan has now been "called in" to be considered by a scrutiny committee.

Council bosses have argued the revamped theatre will bring an extra 200,000 visitors to Stockton and generate £18m a year for the town's economy.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The funding will help transform the theatre into a live music and comedy venue

But critics have questioned the amount of money being poured in and how decisions have been taken, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said. 

"Call-in" papers have now been lodged by independent councillor Ray Godwin, which means the proposal must be considered by the authority's executive scrutiny committee.

It could offer up changes to the extra spending plan and send its recommendations back to the council's Labour cabinet. 

Mr Godwin said: "I find it unbelievable that councillors had to vote on this additional funding after being supplied with so little factual information.

"We have a duty to the residents of the borough to make sure ratepayers' money is being spent wisely and that we are getting the best value."

Image copyright Stockton Council
Image caption An artist's impression of a revamped Globe Theatre

The Grade II-listed theatre closed in 1997 having been used as a bingo hall for the previous 20 years.

Last month Nigel Cooke, cabinet member for regeneration and housing, warned any delays in completing the work would risk ramping up costs even further and endanger the Heritage Lottery funding. 

It is expected councillors will re-examine the plans on 29 July.

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