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THE END FOR STCC: Southport Theatre & Convention Centre unlikely to ever reopen


Southport Theatre and Convention Centre is unlikely to ever reopen after its operators went bust during the pandemic, a council report has revealed.

The Southport Theatre and Convention Centre (STCC) requires extensive work to allow it to reopen even in the short term, including repairs to the theatre’s crumbling ceiling and upgrading its electrical systems.

Repairs are expected to cost £550,000 and even then would only bring the building up to the minimum standard, requiring Sefton Council to spend even more to subsidise the STCC as it is unlikely to cover its running costs.

In light of the cost of reopening the STCC and plans to replace it with a brand new events centre in the near future, Sefton’s cabinet is expected to vote against a short-term reopening of the facility at its meeting on Thursday June 24.

The STCC closed during the first lockdown and has remained shut since then after operators Bliss went bust in May 2020, handing the keys back to owners Sefton Council.

More than 2,000 people joined a campaign calling on the council to save the theatre and Floral Hall, but a report prepared ahead of next week’s council meeting suggests they have not succeeded.

The report said many of the STCC’s mechanical and electrical systems are at the end of their life, while the building is in “poor condition”.

The theatre in particular is a serious problem and has had to have netting installed to catch debris falling from the ceiling. The cost of bringing the theatre up to a point where it can operate safety is said to be “far in excess of the income it could generate in any short-term period”.

Even getting just the Floral Hall and convention centre up to a point where they can reopen is projected to cost £550,000, with the risk that more problems will arise leading to cancellations and lost income.
The report went on to say that, even then, the STCC would be expected to lose money over the next two years, requiring the council to spend almost £400,000 in subsidies.

Keeping the STCC closed will, however, have a heavy impact on Southport’s economy. The town has already missed out on £6.8m as a result of the STCC being closed, and could lose another £14.5m over the next two years if it does not reopen.

In the meantime, however, the council is set to continue with its plans to replace the STCC with a state-of-the-art Marine Lake Events Centre using funding from the government’s Town Deal grant.

The new events centre is expected to cost around £75m, but require no subsidy and bring in an annual profit of more than £500,000 plus millions more for the local economy.
Some £33.3m of the cost will be paid for out of Southport’s Town Deal Fund award, while the Liverpool City Region has agreed in principle to provide another £20m.
The council is also looking at securing additional funding to cover the remaining £21.7m.

Written by Chris McKeon, Local Democracy Reporter

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