Row hots up over cash snub

Friends of Morecambe's Winter Garden theatre pictured admiring a newly-restored cast-iron pillar are from left to right: Evelyn Archer, trustee Roger Muckle and Friends committee member June Stancliffe.
Friends of Morecambe's Winter Garden theatre pictured admiring a newly-restored cast-iron pillar are from left to right: Evelyn Archer, trustee Roger Muckle and Friends committee member June Stancliffe.
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The driving force behind the resurrection of the Winter Gardens has lashed out at Lancaster City Council over a funding bid snub.

Evelyn Archer claimed the council “has no confidence in Morecambe” after she was told to put together a business case for a £30,000 grant.

The Trustees of the Winter Gardens are extremely disappointed that the Labour controlled cabinet, and supported by all political groups on the council, refused to consider and support the growth bid to help install a heating system in the Winter Gardens

Evelyn Archer

Mrs Archer had earlier written to leaders of all political parties on the council, asking for cash for a new heating system at the theatre.

But at last week’s budget council meeting, her bid was barely mentioned.

Instead, Mrs Archer received a letter from Mark Cullinan, chief executive of Lancaster City Council, telling her: “I cannot guarantee a positive outcome.”

Mrs Archer said: “The Trustees of the Winter Gardens are extremely disappointed that the Labour controlled cabinet, and supported by all political groups on the council, refused to consider and support the growth bid to help install a heating system in the Winter Gardens.”

She said the trust would now be putting together a business case to apply for the funding.

Mr Cullinan’s letter also scolded Mrs Archer over her complaints that the council had recently given grants to Lancaster theatres The Dukes and the Grand.

He wrote: “Please avoid peripheral arguments relating to other arts organisations as they are not helpful.

“(Your request) cannot be done by simply running an argument that others receive subsidy.

“It has to be done on the basis of a sound business case because the council has a duty to justify properly why it provides subsidy.”

Mrs Archer leads the Friends of the Winter Gardens, a team of volunteers dedicated to restoring the Grade II* seafront theatre back to its former glory.

The theatre, while not yetfully open, hosts regular entertainment events but new heating is a priority after recent complaints by audiences and performers that the building is too cold.