A campaign to save Winchester's much loved arts centre is celebrating after cross-party support earned it a valuable lifeline.
Prospective Winchester MP, Steve Brine, has welcomed news that the future of the Tower Arts Centre will now goto full consultation and be allowed to resume bookings.
The Romsey Road venue had been the subject of a transfer of ownership from Hampshire County Council to Kings School but campaigners felt that would not protect it as a fully sufficient arts venue and launched a highly effective campaign.
Commenting on news from the Winchester H.A.T (AKA The Hampshire Action Team of Hampshire County Council) that a decision on the future of the Tower Arts Centre is going back to consultation, Prospective Winchester MP, Steve Brine said:
“Even after several deferments of this decision, campaigners rightly felt the timescales involved didn’t give sufficient time to secure the Tower’s long-term future as a self-standing arts venue and allow all options to be considered.
"I took the decision to use my influence and work effectively behind the scenes to convey the very real (and many) concerns of campaigners to the County Council. To that end, I have spoken repeatedly with the leader of Hampshire County Council, Ken Thornber to argue for a new consultation period - and crucially a lifting of the embargo on the venue taking bookings for the new season.
"I understand that the County Council face very real financial challenges going forward due to the hugely rising costs of meeting the adult social care budget and frankly I am not interested in playing politics with this issue for short-term personal gain. At the heart of the matter is the fact that we all want to ensure the new Discovery Centre complements the Tower, we want to protect the Blue Apple Theatre Company and secure a real long-term future for the venue.
“I asked Cllr Thornber to look again at this move; both in terms of the timescales involved in any future transfer and the overall decision itself. I am pleased he has undertaken to do just that and to judge again the Tower decision in the light of the many other options that could be on the table with the benefit of more time.
“This gives everyone a chance to catch their breath and put together a sensible plan for the future. I would urge everyone concerned to now work with the County Council to find a sensible long-term future for the Tower and stop clouding the issue with partisan attacks which will do nothing to help achieve that aim.”
You can visit the Tower Arts website at www.towerarts.co.uk
You can visit the Tower Arts Campaign Blog at http://savetowerarts.blogspot.com
Pictured above is St Lukes City Councillor, James Stephens at the demo talking to concerned local residents on Friday 22nd June 2007.