To receive Motions on Notice.
Councillor M Goldspink proposed a motion on notice, which was seconded by Councillor C Wilson.
The motion submitted was that “This Council resolves, subject to legal advice, to put the proposed development of the Old River Lane site in Bishop's Stortford on hold, until further consultations have been carried out with Theatre Companies and Theatre Agents and with the residents of Bishop's Stortford.”
In support of the motion, Councillor M Goldspink said the proposed development of the site might jeopardise the future of The Rhodes Centre and Museum. Cllr Goldspink described comments received during campaigning prior to the elections from residents anxious about the plans for a new car park at Northgate End, Bishop’s Stortford. Views expressed by residents were that the Old River Lane scheme was strongly disliked. Whilst she endorsed aspects of the proposals, consultation was needed with theatre companies and residents. She commended her motion, and sought a recorded vote.
Councillor C Wilson said he appreciated the hard work of Officers and Members in developing the project. The scheme was potentially a good one, but it was necessary to consult further.
Councillor G Williamson outlined the approach taken. He said the proposals would provide retail space and better provision for arts and leisure activities. He outlined the consultation carried out, including the establishment of a Steering Group, membership of which included local people.
Councillor G Williamson said the development’s architect was now revisiting original designs. This work would be published this Summer, when further consultation would take place.
Councillor E Buckmaster said Members had undertaken visits to art theatres around the country in order to assess what worked well. They had found that increasing such provision could multiply the benefits to the local economy and that it was important that high streets and town centres should adapt to survive. Rather than deferring the Old River Lane development, Councillor E Buckmaster invited Members to agree it should be progressed.
Councillor J Wyllie said it was not the case, as Councillor M Goldspink had suggested, that the project would jeopardise The Rhodes Centre or Museum. The Rhodes Centre was not under threat of closing, as had been made clear by Bishop’s Stortford Town Council. The Centre was too small and that its access was too limited to be appealing to theatre companies. Specifically, the back stage access did not permit access for scenery. He invited Councillor M Goldspink to speak to the management of The Rhodes Centre, and asserted that the project at Old River Lane would complement it.
In response, Councillor M Goldspink thanked Members for their explanations. She appreciated the limitations of The Rhodes Centre, but her question remained, had any theatre groups been asked if a larger theatre would encourage them to use the venue.
As per paragraph 16.9(a) of the Council’s Constitution, the debate was then put to the vote.
At the request of 5 members per paragraph 18.5.1 of the Council’s Constitution, a recorded vote was taken, the result being:
Councillors T Beckett, M Brady, L Corpe, J Dumont, M Goldspink, C Redfern and C Wilson.
Councillors A Alder, D Andrews, R Bolton, P Boylan, E Buckmaster, R Buckmaster, S Bull, J Burmicz, K Crofton, G Cutting, R Deering, I Devonshire, H Drake, R Fernando, J Goodeve, A Hall, L Haysey, D Hollebon, A Huggins, J Jones, J Kaye, I Kemp, G McAndrew, M McMullen, S Newton, T Page, J Ranger, S Reed, P Ruffles, S Rutland-Barsby, M Stevenson, A Stowe, N Symonds, A Ward-Booth, G Williamson and J Wyllie.
Councillors S Bell, B Crystall and J Frecknall.
The motion was therefore not carried.