PRESS RELEASE – 22 JULY 2020
CDC CONSERVATIVES ASK QUESTIONS OVER BARN THEATRE PAYMENTS, GRANTS & LOANS
Conservatives at Cotswold District Council are asking for transparency over the decision to award a series of contracts, grants, and loans to the Barn Theatre in Cirencester during a special cabinet meeting held on 15 July.
During the meeting, senior leaders of the Lib Dem administration agreed to award the Barn Theatre a contract worth £20,000 for ongoing media support to generate publicity, communications, and engagement with residents on behalf of the council. The one-year trial contract covers 12 monthly live shows and the production of 6 informative video productions.
In the only other agenda item during the meeting, it was also agreed to give the Barn Theatre a £20,000 loan and a £10,000 grant so they can convert the Barn Theatre into a cinema with theatre programmes being brought back at a later date when safe to do so.
Although the news of the part cinema part theatre was generally welcomed by Cirencester Conservatives, the surprise, the sudden announcement of £50,000 in contracts, grants and loans has generated several questions relating to what type of tender process (if any) was used and they are seeking clarification if this type of funding is available to other, similar organisations in other parts of the Cotswolds.
Cllr Richard Morgan, Leader of the Opposition Conservative Group said,
“The Conservatives have a great working relationship with the Barn Theatre, and I would thank them again for facilitating a number of informative Q&A sessions hosted by our MP during the lockdown period.”
“I am personally a supporter of the Barn Theatre which I agree is a valuable community asset. I am also happy that the people of Cirencester will have some form of cinema, but we still support the exciting plans for a full-time large cinema venue in the centre of town. However, as leader of the main opposition group I have a responsibility to all areas of the Cotswolds, not just Cirencester. We will be seeking clarification that this new type of financial support is being made available to other venues across the Cotswolds.
“We are also entitled to ask what tender process was followed and if there were other Cirencester venues such as the Sundial Theatre or the Corinium museum that were encouraged to bid”.
“Finally, I would also not be doing my job if we did not scrutinise the decision to award the Barn £20,000 of taxpayers money to make broadcasts on behalf of the council. Even if this is proven to be a good use of taxpayers money, it’s difficult to see how these won’t become party political in some way. Surely for balance and fairness, equal time should be allocated (on a pro-rata basis) to our Green Party councillor, our Independent councillor and the Conservative group.”
“I am sure the Lib Dems will offer us the chance to be interviewed by their leader on their set with a Lib Dem yellow backdrop, but I am not sure that would pass any reasonable impartiality test.”