The debate on Luton Council’s five year Capital Investment programme (Budget Council meeting 20th February) became heated when Liberal Democrat councillors asked why all reference to a new theatre or concert hall for the town has been deleted completely from the plan and then tried to have the project re-instated.
“We know how hard it is, but they’ve given up all aspiration. They’ve even given up hope,” says Liberal Democrat leader David Franks.
“Of course you cannot hand out guarantees about if and when it will happen, but the great advantage of keeping the plan alive is that everyone is constantly reminded of the need to keep a keen eye open for anything which looks like it may turn into an opportunity.”
“Over the years a number of possibilities have presented themselves. Some looked like no hopers from the start, some seemed as though they might actually lead somewhere. Because the previous Liberal Democrat administration kept the theatre project in the long term plan, all of the potential opportunities were followed up and unfortunately came to nothing in the end. But you have to nurture the ambition, sustain the aspiration or you risk failing to spot an opportunity when it comes along. Labour has simply written it off, decided it doesn’t matter that Luton is the largest town in England without a serious performance venue.”
“There has been no announcement that the plan has been abandoned. It looks very much like the Labour leadership were hoping no-one would notice.”
Labour councillors voted down a Liberal Democrat amendment to the budget to put the civic theatre/concert hall back in the long term Capital Programme.