Following a ‘letter to the editor’ by Conservative Councillor Joyce Ryan in the Ilford Recorder yesterday, Leader of the Council, Cllr Jas Athwal said “let me assure you that my Labour administration has NO plans to close the KMT”.
“Cllr Ryan enjoys spreading fear to residents without explaining circumstances and reasons why decisions are made. Negotiations with the KMT have taken some time, and we are very close to finding a suitable arrangement which will go to Cabinet in the coming months”.
“Cllr Ryan is very vocal about the arts in Redbridge; and rightly so. Labour is a big supporter of the arts; and we are passionate about encouraging and building our culture and identity in this great Borough”.
The Central Government run by Cllr Ryan’s Conservative friends have cut Redbridge’s local council budget meaning savings of around £42.6 million over the next five years must be found. These unprecedented cuts are producing significant pressures on the Council, meaning Council are having to decide whether to provide support to the theatre company or whether to support our most vulnerable people like our children and elderly.
The Council has historically provided both company secretary support; and financial management support to the KMT, this has been both time consuming for council officers above their assigned duties; and additionally could have been seen as a conflict of interest between Council and the Board.
Cllr Athwal further pointed out that the original lease expired in 2010, whist Cllr Ryan and her Conservative administration were controlling the Council – and they failed to negotiate a lease. The Labour led Council have been in considerable negotiations with the KMT Chairperson and Management Team to find mutually exclusive lease arrangements that will see the continued viability of the KMT; and fits with the Council’s plans for Ilford Town regeneration.
The continued success of the KMT relies on it being able to be financially stable on its own; and Cllr Athwal wants to personally see this continued success in whatever form the Board sees is the best – and says “Councillor Ryan needs to be considerate of the way ‘times have changed’ and that in the current economic climate we need to all work together to ensure our arts and culture offer can continue to thrive”.
Cllr Athwal has recently become a member of the theatre himself; and I would encourage residents to become a members too to help ensure its continued success - www.kmtheatre.co.uk