Wirral Council will decide the future use of the Floral Pavilion in March as it looks to save £1.3m.
The local authority first revealed it was reviewing the Floral Pavilion theatre in July 2023 though few details have been released so far about future plans for how the New Brighton theatre will be run. The local authority is looking for an “alternative operator” to take the venue over and “secure this facility for the long term.”
According to a report published on 17 January, this is expected to save the council £1.3m in next year’s budget for council services between April 2024 to March 2025. The theatre is currently subsidised by the local authority to the tune of £1.8m.
This would leave a target £500,000 subsidy “for the continued operation of the building in some format.” The council will ask for public feedback on its budget plans in January.
The report said, “Delivering financial sustainability is vitally important for the Council and the budget options presented have been drawn up with this in mind, consideration is given to areas of discretionary expenditure that could be curtailed along with demonstrating savings that can be delivered from statutory components of the Council.”
At a Tourism, Communities, Culture and Leisure committee, Director of Neighbourhoods Services Jason Gooding said past money saving targets were not achievable and the council needs to bring the Floral’s budget into “a realistic position going forward”.
He said a report would be coming to the committee in March 2024, which will be after the council has set its budget for the next financial year in February. This is expected to outline what the council plans to do next.
The council also looks set to revive plans to relocate Birkenhead Central Library and Wallasey Central Library out of both of their current locations. The proposal won’t be considered for another year but would look to save £250,000 from April 2025 to March 2026.
It was proposed in January 2023 to move Birkenhead Central to the town hall while Wallasey Central would move to the Floral Pavilion. Despite potentially saving the council £280,000 by moving both services out of “high-cost sites,” thousands opposed the move and they were eventually dropped from the final budget.
The council also hopes to save £3m in the next three years by modernising its existing leisure services which will “include delivery arrangements, opportunities for greater partner and service integration and an associated investment programme in new or retained facilities to ensure the future provision effectively delivers better outcomes.”