SAVE THE CONNAUGHT: Second Worthing theatres meeting to be organised

A SECOND public meeting is being organised to thrash out a gameplan to save Worthing’s theatres.

Jon Woodley, a 26-year-old theatre consultant who is spearheading the campaign, urged protesters to maintain their support.

He said: “This is our chance for the people of Worthing to retain a vital part of its community, and ensure its future.”

Senior councillors met earlier this month to debate the fate of the Connaught, Assembly Hall and Pavilion amid fears at least one venue could close as the town hall sought to slash its £1.3 million annual subsidy.

They received petitions containing 17,742 names calling for the theatres to be retained, and agreed to investigate the possibility of a community trust taking over.

Mr Woodley hailed the meeting “a wonderful success”.

A working party of four councillors had now been set up to speed up the process.

Mr Woodley said: “Many of the councillors were saying that the trust should be backed and established as soon as possible.

“However, they were cautioned by council officers who said they cannot show favouritism to any party until it is legally established which method they must take.

“So we have a small victory for now, but a long way to go yet.”

Mr Woodley said the hard work would start when the group needed to start fund-raising.

He said a website was being set up and another meeting organised “to lock heads together”.

At the crucial cabinet meeting, Paul Yallop, leader of the council, said: “The risk of doing nothing is we close or demolish one of our venues.

“That’s a greater risk than trying to take the trust forward.”