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Elmbridge government Leisure Walton

Walton Playhouse – The Truth

The Conservatives have been claiming that the Elmbridge Liberal Democrats plan to demolish the Playhouse. This is untrue. The Lib Dem/Resident Association administration has been working together with the users of the Cecil Hepworth Playhouse in Walton to help secure its future by transferring its day-to-day management to a new community-run approach while the building will remain owned by Elmbridge Borough Council. Indeed last month, we secured a vote in favour of supporting the Playhouse’s future. Sadly the Conservatives chose to vote against*.

Back in 2018 the then Conservative-run Council decided that the Cecil Hepworth Playhouse should be excluded from the Leisure Contract when it was next tendered. Their decision means, with the contract renewal in April 2023, there needs to be a plan in place for the future management of the Playhouse. The Administration is backing community-led management of the Cecil Hepworth Playhouse. It’s a model it believes works well for community assets and which has been adopted elsewhere. The Conservatives are criticising the Administration for working on a solution to the problem they created.

Cllr Bruce McDonald, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Elmbridge Borough Council said: “I want to be absolutely clear – there have never been any plans supported by this Administration to close the Playhouse. The Conservatives would rather play political games with false truths than actually support this cherished local venue. They showed this once again when they voted against the council’s action to secure the Playhouse’s future.”

“I’m pleased that the Lib Dems/RA administration has been working closely over the last few months with the community users of the Cecil Hepworth Playhouse. Supporting arts in our community is at the core of our Liberal Democrat values. We want the Playhouse to be run by the people who use it – the people who know how to run it best – making sure that it’s at the heart of our community for future generations of actors, techies and audiences.”

“Credit should go to the campaigners who have risen to the challenge. They’re the people who will ultimately secure the future of the Playhouse – not local politicians – and I know they will do a fantastic job with the full support of our council”

By spreading false information not only do the Conservatives undermine local democracy but they cause people real worry. We hope this statement reassures those concerned and that we can all get on with securing the Playhouse’s future, not playing political games.

* We, like the Conservatives, can choose to spin rather than provide facts. But we’d rather tell the truth to residents. In this instance, the Conservatives brought a motion to council that would have stated the Administration previously planned to close the Playhouse. The Lib Dem/RA administration could not vote for a lie, so amended the motion to remove this statement. The Conservatives voted against the amendment and so did not join the council in voting for the Playhouse’s future.