Darlington councillors confirm Arts Centre to close in July

Darlington Arts Centre will close as proposed on July 1, 2012

Darlington Arts Centre will close as proposed on July 1, 2012

First published in Darlington Borough Council News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Darlington reporter

COUNCILLORS in Darlington have agreed millions of pounds of cuts to services and facilities, including the loss of the town’s Arts Centre, as they confirmed the budget for the coming year.

The leader of Darlington Borough Council, Bill Dixon, spoke of his regret at having to make the cuts, as opposition councillors accused the ruling-Labour party of 19 years of over-spending and financial mismanagement.

Among the cuts agreed by full council last night were:

- Darlington Arts Centre will close, as proposed, in July. The building is up for sale.

- At least 155 staff will be made redundant, mostly compulsory redundancies from the Arts Centre.

- Council tax will increase by 3.5 per cent each year for the next four years. The council rejected an offer of a council tax freeze from the government on the grounds that it would force them to make even deeper cuts next year.

-Parking charges for onstreet parking will be introduced on Sundays at a charge of 50p for every 30 minutes.

-Fees for residents' parking permits will increase from £25 to £50 per annum over the next three years.

-Introduction of a £5 per day waiver to allow trades people and builders to park a vehicle on yellow lines while working.

-The budget for the Connexions service, which works with 12-19-year-olds, will be reduced by £127,000.

-Rent subsidies for the Darlington Association on Disability base in the Market Place will be withdrawn over four years.

Durham Police has stepped in to offer funding for 18 CCTV cameras in outlying areas of the town. 19 others will be switched off from April 1.

Comments (23)

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11:05am Fri 2 Mar 12

jotheblondeone says...

Bravo Darlington Borough Council .. make the town even less attractive for visitors and take away one of the few attractions for the people who live here.
Come to Darlington for the fantastic arts facilites, Great shopping, fabulous toilet facilites and free parking .. not!
Bravo Darlington Borough Council .. make the town even less attractive for visitors and take away one of the few attractions for the people who live here. Come to Darlington for the fantastic arts facilites, Great shopping, fabulous toilet facilites and free parking .. not! jotheblondeone
  • Score: 0

11:17am Fri 2 Mar 12

Quakerz says...

I can't say I've ever been attracted to Darlington because of it's Art Centre. The fact is, art is unimportant to the majority of the population and the centre costs 500k to run.
I can't say I've ever been attracted to Darlington because of it's Art Centre. The fact is, art is unimportant to the majority of the population and the centre costs 500k to run. Quakerz
  • Score: 0

11:18am Fri 2 Mar 12

Jja says...

Short term politics as usual, save a few pound today and deny our children access to the arts for life!!! Shame on this labour council who failed to put aside money during the good times. Will the announcement about fewer councillors, less meetings, lower councillor expenses be announced later or would that be too much pain for these incompetent people?
Short term politics as usual, save a few pound today and deny our children access to the arts for life!!! Shame on this labour council who failed to put aside money during the good times. Will the announcement about fewer councillors, less meetings, lower councillor expenses be announced later or would that be too much pain for these incompetent people? Jja
  • Score: 0

11:32am Fri 2 Mar 12

44andcounting says...

As a local gov employee, I'd like to know where the extra 3.5% council tax rise will come from with my already squeezed pay frozen budget. Stop paying out to those at the top - too many cheifs and not enough indians !!
As a local gov employee, I'd like to know where the extra 3.5% council tax rise will come from with my already squeezed pay frozen budget. Stop paying out to those at the top - too many cheifs and not enough indians !! 44andcounting
  • Score: 0

12:10pm Fri 2 Mar 12

Lifetime Townie says...

We can't afford the salaries of the top dogs in the town hall yet it's them who decide what the public can and can't have. At the end of the budget consultation process it looks like the council have heard but haven't listened to the requirements of the public. No doubt some of the wasteful cabinet schemes that are as yet unknown to the public will still go ahead.
We can't afford the salaries of the top dogs in the town hall yet it's them who decide what the public can and can't have. At the end of the budget consultation process it looks like the council have heard but haven't listened to the requirements of the public. No doubt some of the wasteful cabinet schemes that are as yet unknown to the public will still go ahead. Lifetime Townie
  • Score: 0

12:11pm Fri 2 Mar 12

swissball says...

ffs, I don't see the Arts Centre as an attraction, more a waste of money, pleased it's going!!!!
ffs, I don't see the Arts Centre as an attraction, more a waste of money, pleased it's going!!!! swissball
  • Score: 0

12:42pm Fri 2 Mar 12

holmesc1 says...

The arts centre wants closing if they looking at saving money. A stuck up snobby venue with drinks as expensive as down south. They have washed up old bands on and charge too much for tickets and the sound mix for the bands is dreadful. The building must cost a fortune in utility bills due to its layout as well. I'm so glad the council ahve kept the civic open at the expensive of the arts centre. The civics a nice thearte with top class accoustics and a wide variety of plays, comedy, bands for all ages and is very popular
The arts centre wants closing if they looking at saving money. A stuck up snobby venue with drinks as expensive as down south. They have washed up old bands on and charge too much for tickets and the sound mix for the bands is dreadful. The building must cost a fortune in utility bills due to its layout as well. I'm so glad the council ahve kept the civic open at the expensive of the arts centre. The civics a nice thearte with top class accoustics and a wide variety of plays, comedy, bands for all ages and is very popular holmesc1
  • Score: 0

2:48pm Fri 2 Mar 12

ianh says...

following is extract from a letter sent by a friend of mine tot he echo, but never published,

"I was most keen to attend the Darlington Borough Council Budget Consultation event held at the Dolphin Centre last Tuesday evening.(17th Jan). Unfortunately, due to the cuts already imposed by DBC on the rural bus services, I would have been uable to get home again afterwards.

However, in discussion with those who did go, and the Northern Echo's report on this event, it is apparent that the DBC Cabinet members are saddened at having to propose cuts that will inevitably impact old and young alike. Concern was also expressed for the numerous DBC employees who will see their pay cut in real terms, or jobs lost altogether.

Strange then, that there a few people who people at DBC who are not to be affected at all by these cuts, and thats the Cllrs themselves. I was amazed to discover that every Cllr receives a basic allowance in excess of £8000 pa, Cabinet members receive over £19,0000 and the Leader, almost £31,0000pa. (these do not even include various associated roles on fire and police authorities)

All this, for what is a part-time job.

I have no problem with cllrs receiving a reasonable renumeration to cover the time and effort that i know many put into their roles.
However, surely at this time, where their own employees are losing pay and jobs, these Cllrs should be leading from front, and accepting that they too must accept a cut in line with everyone else."
following is extract from a letter sent by a friend of mine tot he echo, but never published, "I was most keen to attend the Darlington Borough Council Budget Consultation event held at the Dolphin Centre last Tuesday evening.(17th Jan). Unfortunately, due to the cuts already imposed by DBC on the rural bus services, I would have been uable to get home again afterwards. However, in discussion with those who did go, and the Northern Echo's report on this event, it is apparent that the DBC Cabinet members are saddened at having to propose cuts that will inevitably impact old and young alike. Concern was also expressed for the numerous DBC employees who will see their pay cut in real terms, or jobs lost altogether. Strange then, that there a few people who people at DBC who are not to be affected at all by these cuts, and thats the Cllrs themselves. I was amazed to discover that every Cllr receives a basic allowance in excess of £8000 pa, Cabinet members receive over £19,0000 and the Leader, almost £31,0000pa. (these do not even include various associated roles on fire and police authorities) All this, for what is a part-time job. I have no problem with cllrs receiving a reasonable renumeration to cover the time and effort that i know many put into their roles. However, surely at this time, where their own employees are losing pay and jobs, these Cllrs should be leading from front, and accepting that they too must accept a cut in line with everyone else." ianh
  • Score: 0

3:32pm Fri 2 Mar 12

Lifetime Townie says...

We don't need all of these councillors, some of them do a good job but there are a lot of them in it for the party and not the public. Many are just along for the ride. Abolish the cabinet and work on a max. of 20 cllrs would be fair for the amount of work that there is for them to do.
We don't need all of these councillors, some of them do a good job but there are a lot of them in it for the party and not the public. Many are just along for the ride. Abolish the cabinet and work on a max. of 20 cllrs would be fair for the amount of work that there is for them to do. Lifetime Townie
  • Score: 0

3:39pm Fri 2 Mar 12

harry2 says...

i also think darlington should have access to art, but i believe it should be available to all

at the present art centre if you are disabled you cant go anywhere except the 1st floor

the art centre should have closed last year
i feel for the staff who are about to lose thier jobs.
i also think darlington should have access to art, but i believe it should be available to all at the present art centre if you are disabled you cant go anywhere except the 1st floor the art centre should have closed last year i feel for the staff who are about to lose thier jobs. harry2
  • Score: 0

4:12pm Fri 2 Mar 12

Allanopie says...

More People with cars , will now go to Teeside Park , as free parking ! The Council will drive more people away , with car,s , then there will be just the pedestrian,s follk coming to town on bus , unless , there prices go up n all ! Situation is getting rather silly !
More People with cars , will now go to Teeside Park , as free parking ! The Council will drive more people away , with car,s , then there will be just the pedestrian,s follk coming to town on bus , unless , there prices go up n all ! Situation is getting rather silly ! Allanopie
  • Score: 0

8:57pm Fri 2 Mar 12

Lifetime Townie says...

We need an elected Mayor to run the town on behalf of the public.
We need an elected Mayor to run the town on behalf of the public. Lifetime Townie
  • Score: 0

1:28pm Sat 3 Mar 12

BB Darlington says...

A lot of cutbacks are to be made which will affect the people of Darlington so I think the people of Darlington must consider cutbacks which will reduce their cost to the people of Darlington. Do we need so many councillors? Do we get value for money? Are their expenses claimed at highest or lowest rates?
Do we really need all "the official ceremonies" I am sure a close scrutiny would enable some savings to be made.
A lot of cutbacks are to be made which will affect the people of Darlington so I think the people of Darlington must consider cutbacks which will reduce their cost to the people of Darlington. Do we need so many councillors? Do we get value for money? Are their expenses claimed at highest or lowest rates? Do we really need all "the official ceremonies" I am sure a close scrutiny would enable some savings to be made. BB Darlington
  • Score: 0

2:46pm Sat 3 Mar 12

Lifetime Townie says...

Maybe we need an independent, non political scrutiny committee that is elected by the public, to look after the financial management. The Con/Libs don't seem to be able to do anything about the waste of council taxes.
Maybe we need an independent, non political scrutiny committee that is elected by the public, to look after the financial management. The Con/Libs don't seem to be able to do anything about the waste of council taxes. Lifetime Townie
  • Score: 0

6:35pm Sat 3 Mar 12

Spy Boy says...

harry2 wrote:
i also think darlington should have access to art, but i believe it should be available to all at the present art centre if you are disabled you cant go anywhere except the 1st floor the art centre should have closed last year i feel for the staff who are about to lose thier jobs.
Actually Harry, on the 'Ground Floor' and therefore fully accessible, we have the Theatre, Studio, Club Room, East Hall, Foyer Lounge, 3 Art Galleries and plenty of toilet facilities. Also, there are two media studios. On the 1st Floor ( Upstairs ) we have offices and rooms currently on hire to the 6th Form. There are no performance spaces open to the public on the 1st Floor, all is at ground level, so how is this an issue for disabled people ?
[quote][p][bold]harry2[/bold] wrote: i also think darlington should have access to art, but i believe it should be available to all at the present art centre if you are disabled you cant go anywhere except the 1st floor the art centre should have closed last year i feel for the staff who are about to lose thier jobs.[/p][/quote]Actually Harry, on the 'Ground Floor' and therefore fully accessible, we have the Theatre, Studio, Club Room, East Hall, Foyer Lounge, 3 Art Galleries and plenty of toilet facilities. Also, there are two media studios. On the 1st Floor ( Upstairs ) we have offices and rooms currently on hire to the 6th Form. There are no performance spaces open to the public on the 1st Floor, all is at ground level, so how is this an issue for disabled people ? Spy Boy
  • Score: 0

6:40pm Sat 3 Mar 12

Spy Boy says...

Let's face it folks, the Arts Centre has been at risk ever since the council found that they could flog it to build even more unwanted and unlovely Executive Homes. They know which side their bread is buttered. The whole 'Government Cuts' waffle is just so much smoke and mirrors. A great excuse for our shower of councillors to hang their pet schemes on.

I'd believe their current commiserations if they actually visited the building outside of their civic committments.
Let's face it folks, the Arts Centre has been at risk ever since the council found that they could flog it to build even more unwanted and unlovely Executive Homes. They know which side their bread is buttered. The whole 'Government Cuts' waffle is just so much smoke and mirrors. A great excuse for our shower of councillors to hang their pet schemes on. I'd believe their current commiserations if they actually visited the building outside of their civic committments. Spy Boy
  • Score: 0

6:55pm Sat 3 Mar 12

spragger says...

Another day, another Labour Council **** up
Have they decapitated the council?
Cut the salaries by 15%?
Changed to a Defined Contribution pension?
Removed all non jobs, the ones the CT payer will not miss?
All temporary staff removed?
All overtime cancelled?
If not leave the Arts centre alone and get on with these CUTS
Another day, another Labour Council **** up Have they decapitated the council? Cut the salaries by 15%? Changed to a Defined Contribution pension? Removed all non jobs, the ones the CT payer will not miss? All temporary staff removed? All overtime cancelled? If not leave the Arts centre alone and get on with these CUTS spragger
  • Score: 0

7:40pm Sat 3 Mar 12

Spy Boy says...

holmesc1 wrote:
The arts centre wants closing if they looking at saving money. A stuck up snobby venue with drinks as expensive as down south. They have washed up old bands on and charge too much for tickets and the sound mix for the bands is dreadful. The building must cost a fortune in utility bills due to its layout as well. I'm so glad the council ahve kept the civic open at the expensive of the arts centre. The civics a nice thearte with top class accoustics and a wide variety of plays, comedy, bands for all ages and is very popular
Actually, after thinking about this post, I'm still at a loss as to who the 'Washed up Old Bands' actually are. Not my experience at all.. I've seen some absolutely cracking bands there, probably in excess of 200 of them. Based on this experience, I would say that I've enjoyed around 95% of them. Not a bad avarage I would say. Rarely had any issues with the sound either. The Arts Centre could be a lot better though, but the council pulled the plug years ago and investment was severely curtailed. All they got was a cheap makeover on the Foyer and a less than perfect upgrade of the Studio. The layout is just what you can expect from an old building, but you have to accept this sort of quirkiness. If the council had made the right moves and improved the heating system and insulation, the costs would be far less.

As for costs of drinks etc. I'd say they were high, but not that much higher than a lot of places, cheaper than some. If you only go for the drinks, then go to the pubs and clubs in town that flog it off cheap.

The Civic is a nice theatre. I use it a lot. I'm glad it's still there too, but it's costing us ratepayers as well. If the council could have sold it they would have. No one wants to buy a hugely expensive listed building though and they can't build flats on the site, so we get to keep it after all, probably at the cost of the Arts Centre. I hope people can see a pattern here. Darlington Council are determined to sell off any land they own that can be used for housing. Schools, colleges, council yards, sports halls, Arts Centre, the lot. Robbing us all of our heritage for a fast buck. They are financially and morally bankrupt.

And, HolmesC1, when ( if ) they build this new Arts Hub, do you really think that it won't cost you even more money ? Think again.

In the meantime, maybe you'd like to find a venue with cheap drinks, nice atmosphere, low admission prices, state of the art sound systems and top line bands. If you find one, please tell us. We'd all like to know where it is.
[quote][p][bold]holmesc1[/bold] wrote: The arts centre wants closing if they looking at saving money. A stuck up snobby venue with drinks as expensive as down south. They have washed up old bands on and charge too much for tickets and the sound mix for the bands is dreadful. The building must cost a fortune in utility bills due to its layout as well. I'm so glad the council ahve kept the civic open at the expensive of the arts centre. The civics a nice thearte with top class accoustics and a wide variety of plays, comedy, bands for all ages and is very popular[/p][/quote]Actually, after thinking about this post, I'm still at a loss as to who the 'Washed up Old Bands' actually are. Not my experience at all.. I've seen some absolutely cracking bands there, probably in excess of 200 of them. Based on this experience, I would say that I've enjoyed around 95% of them. Not a bad avarage I would say. Rarely had any issues with the sound either. The Arts Centre could be a lot better though, but the council pulled the plug years ago and investment was severely curtailed. All they got was a cheap makeover on the Foyer and a less than perfect upgrade of the Studio. The layout is just what you can expect from an old building, but you have to accept this sort of quirkiness. If the council had made the right moves and improved the heating system and insulation, the costs would be far less. As for costs of drinks etc. I'd say they were high, but not that much higher than a lot of places, cheaper than some. If you only go for the drinks, then go to the pubs and clubs in town that flog it off cheap. The Civic is a nice theatre. I use it a lot. I'm glad it's still there too, but it's costing us ratepayers as well. If the council could have sold it they would have. No one wants to buy a hugely expensive listed building though and they can't build flats on the site, so we get to keep it after all, probably at the cost of the Arts Centre. I hope people can see a pattern here. Darlington Council are determined to sell off any land they own that can be used for housing. Schools, colleges, council yards, sports halls, Arts Centre, the lot. Robbing us all of our heritage for a fast buck. They are financially and morally bankrupt. And, HolmesC1, when ( if ) they build this new Arts Hub, do you really think that it won't cost you even more money ? Think again. In the meantime, maybe you'd like to find a venue with cheap drinks, nice atmosphere, low admission prices, state of the art sound systems and top line bands. If you find one, please tell us. We'd all like to know where it is. Spy Boy
  • Score: 0

9:05pm Sat 3 Mar 12

Dean M says...

It's the Labour commitment to successive 3.5% (the maximum allowed) council tax increases that I find disgraceful.
.
It is playing politics with peoples money and lives, no question.
.
Consider this; Darlington had elections last year so these tax increase are announced this year, for every year up until the next election.
.
Durham has announced a council tax freeze; they face elections early next year.
.
Funny old thing, or am I just being cynical?
It's the Labour commitment to successive 3.5% (the maximum allowed) council tax increases that I find disgraceful. . It is playing politics with peoples money and lives, no question. . Consider this; Darlington had elections last year so these tax increase are announced this year, for every year up until the next election. . Durham has announced a council tax freeze; they face elections early next year. . Funny old thing, or am I just being cynical? Dean M
  • Score: 0

7:07pm Sun 4 Mar 12

spragger says...

Councils doubled the Council Tax in Labours spendthrift time.
Never forget that

That was with less services for the payers but higher wages & gold plated pensions for the employees.
Madness
Councils doubled the Council Tax in Labours spendthrift time. Never forget that That was with less services for the payers but higher wages & gold plated pensions for the employees. Madness spragger
  • Score: 0

8:18pm Sun 4 Mar 12

mak says...

What did I say about this council making cars, parking, and residents parking into a cash cow!
Still, at least jobs will be created with more council parking wardens!
These councillors are ripping our eyes out!!!
Is there anything we can do???
What did I say about this council making cars, parking, and residents parking into a cash cow! Still, at least jobs will be created with more council parking wardens! These councillors are ripping our eyes out!!! Is there anything we can do??? mak
  • Score: 0

9:57pm Sun 4 Mar 12

harry2 says...

Spy Boy wrote:
harry2 wrote: i also think darlington should have access to art, but i believe it should be available to all at the present art centre if you are disabled you cant go anywhere except the 1st floor the art centre should have closed last year i feel for the staff who are about to lose thier jobs.
Actually Harry, on the 'Ground Floor' and therefore fully accessible, we have the Theatre, Studio, Club Room, East Hall, Foyer Lounge, 3 Art Galleries and plenty of toilet facilities. Also, there are two media studios. On the 1st Floor ( Upstairs ) we have offices and rooms currently on hire to the 6th Form. There are no performance spaces open to the public on the 1st Floor, all is at ground level, so how is this an issue for disabled people ?
i actually meant the ground floor.

and yes you may be able to assess all the things you have said, but you cant access the arts rooms, the weaving room, cut glass room, some rooms upstairs used for movement classess

and i know all the above because i support people with disabilities and come across all of these problems.
[quote][p][bold]Spy Boy[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]harry2[/bold] wrote: i also think darlington should have access to art, but i believe it should be available to all at the present art centre if you are disabled you cant go anywhere except the 1st floor the art centre should have closed last year i feel for the staff who are about to lose thier jobs.[/p][/quote]Actually Harry, on the 'Ground Floor' and therefore fully accessible, we have the Theatre, Studio, Club Room, East Hall, Foyer Lounge, 3 Art Galleries and plenty of toilet facilities. Also, there are two media studios. On the 1st Floor ( Upstairs ) we have offices and rooms currently on hire to the 6th Form. There are no performance spaces open to the public on the 1st Floor, all is at ground level, so how is this an issue for disabled people ?[/p][/quote]i actually meant the ground floor. and yes you may be able to assess all the things you have said, but you cant access the arts rooms, the weaving room, cut glass room, some rooms upstairs used for movement classess and i know all the above because i support people with disabilities and come across all of these problems. harry2
  • Score: 0

5:21pm Mon 12 Mar 12

BB Darlington says...

On the whole, contributors to this discussion seem to consider that our somewhat arrogant councillors are an expense which could and should be included in the cutbacks. Because boundary changes are under scrutiny I tried to grasp some of the points set out by the Local Govt Boundary Commission for England but from what I could gather applications for changes in the numbers of councillors need to be made by the council so it is easy to see why they feel free to do whatever they want. BUT I hope I am wrong, perhaps didn't pick up on some sort of get-out clause that a cleverer person might spot. (long live the arts centre!)
On the whole, contributors to this discussion seem to consider that our somewhat arrogant councillors are an expense which could and should be included in the cutbacks. Because boundary changes are under scrutiny I tried to grasp some of the points set out by the Local Govt Boundary Commission for England but from what I could gather applications for changes in the numbers of councillors need to be made by the council so it is easy to see why they feel free to do whatever they want. BUT I hope I am wrong, perhaps didn't pick up on some sort of get-out clause that a cleverer person might spot. (long live the arts centre!) BB Darlington
  • Score: 0

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