Felixstowe: Only one bid received for Spa Pavilion

DESPITE an extensive campaign to attract interest from the leisure and entertainment industry, only one bid has been received to take over the running of Felixstowe’s Spa Pavilion, it was revealed today.

The “tender box” was officially opened this afternoon after a week’s delay “due to the level of interest shown”.

It is now clear that the level of interest was small and Suffolk Coastal was hoping more business plans would be submitted.

Now a full appraisal of the received bid – submitted by community group The Spa Pavilion Associates – will be carried out with a report due to be made to cabinet in July for councillors to decide the next steps forward.

“It is disappointing that despite 12 different organisations downloading the documents we have received only one formal business plan which will now be rigorously appraised before our cabinet reaches a decision next month,” said Geoff Holdcroft, cabinet member for leisure and economic development.

“It may well be that the lack of firm interest is both a reflection of the general cautious nature of investors during these difficult economic times, or another indication that a regional theatre like the Spa cannot survive without significantly increased subsidy and money from the council.

“There had been a good level of interest and with the half-term break, the Jubilee holidays and other factors, we agreed to extend the deadline to give as much opportunity for firm proposals as possible. Sadly, that interest has not been translated into reality.”

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The council will now evaluate the one submission that has been received and, if cabinet agrees it is a viable bid, will work with the organisation concerned to enable them to implement their proposal for the operation of the Theatre. If the bid is not viable the council will consider other options for the venue.

Suffolk Coastal agreed earlier this year to end its contract with the Spa’s current managers Openwide Coastal early in 2013. The council decided it could no longer afford to give the necessary long-term financial commitment to the theatre, which currently receives around �250,000 a year and which needs at least �3 million in maintenance and improvements to bring it up to modern standards.

Consultants brought in by the council had concluded that if no major investments are made the Spa will quickly become unfit for purpose and that the building is already out of date. Audiences at the Spa have been falling to a degree that each ticket was being subsidised by the council by well over �7.

The Spa is set to stay open until after Christmas and has a packed and varied range of attractions taking to its stage over the coming months including the Summer Youth Project.

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