Louth Playgoers bid to take on community space

John Lill at the Riverhead Theatre, Louth. EMN-150910-172237001
John Lill at the Riverhead Theatre, Louth. EMN-150910-172237001

A Louth Playgoers veteran has pleaded with councillors and the public to help secure a new rehearsal space on behalf of the community.

John Lill, 86, who has been a member of Louth Playgoers Society for almost 70 years, spoke at last week’s 
Louth Town Council meeting to appeal for support in securing the Louth Riverhead Connect Resource Centre, which currently stands empty behind the theatre car park 
in Victoria Road.

In a letter to Lincolnshire County Council, the Louth Playgoers Society explained that the building could be used as a much-needed rehearsal room, with additional space used for workshops, training, informal events and functions for the benefit of the community. It is hoped that a kitchen could also 
be built in order to provide a 
‘break out space’.

Although the Playgoers Society has limited cash reserves for an outright purchase, they have suggested that a ‘community asset transfer’ could be a solution.

The Connect Resource Centre was vacated by the fire service around three weeks ago, having previously been used as an NHS administration building.

John Lill was an integral part of securing the current theatre site which was completed in 2002 following a £1.5m grant from Arts 
Council England.

It was hoped that the original scheme would include a community use and rehearsal space, but this had to be deferred when the project was revised in order to meet budget constraints.

The Leader has been handed a copy of a letter sent by Jim Hogg, Property Manager at Lincolnshire County Council, to the Louth Playgoers Society in March 2013 in which he states that 
the Council “has not at the 
current time made any decision on the future requirement of 
this building”.

The letter continues: “It is the Council’s normal procedure to dispose of surplus property by advertising it for sale on the open market to allow all interested parties to have an opportunity to acquire sites and to demonstrate 
that best value has been achieved for the taxpayer.”

At the Town Council meeting, Mr Lill asked for councillors and members of the public to get behind them.

He said: “I know we have got one of the finest theatres in the East of England. We’re not going to move, but we want some more accommodation.

“I want support from everybody to put pressure, if we can, on the County Council.”

Mr Lill later told the Leader that he hopes the public will “pester the County Council morning, noon and night” to support the theatre group.

Coun Makinson-Sanders said: “The more good things this town has, the more likely we are to have professionals wanting to come here.”

Following a proposal from Councillor Leonard, the Town Council unanimously 
voted to support the Louth Playgoers Society.