Marco Cereste on The Cresset

Marco Cereste Leader of Peterborough City Council comments on the local facilities remaining on offer in Peterborough in the leisure sector following the news that the Cresset Theatre in Bretton will close.

STAINTON: As we revealed this morning. the Cresset Theatre is to close by the end of June. The decision has been taken because of a cash crisis at the venue. The complex will remain open for weddings and conferences, but will not host concerts or gigs from July. Jonathan Martin is the Chief Executive of YMCA Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, which runs the complex. He assured ticket-holders for shows beyond June they will get their money back.
MARTIN: (TAPE) They will get their money back. And in fact it will start to happen automatically. For people who paid on debit and credit cards the money will just start appearing. We will send letters out to people saying it’s coming. For those that paid by cheque, they’ll receive a cheque in the post. The only people that need to come into the building to see us is the people that paid with cash need to bring their tickets in and we’ll give them their cash back.
STAINTON: (LIVE) Well joining us now is Marco Cereste Leader of Peterborough City Council, and editor of ESP Magazine, Sharon McAllister. We’ll talk to Sharon in a moment. First Marco. Marco morning. Your reaction to this news?
CERESTE: Well it’s always sad isn’t it? We’ve been talking with them to try to find a way forward for some time. And there may still be something that we can do together if we can get .. if they can come forward with a sustainable plan that we as a council can support. So I don’t think the game is over yet. But it is sad to hear the news that they’re closing.
STAINTON: It’s a sad indictment for a city like Peterborough though isn’t it, to be left without .. with just the Key Theatre. The Broadway shut fifteen months ago. Nothing’s happened with that. The Cresset’s going. We’ve just got the Key. we’re not going to be able to attract bands and comedians and things like that. We’re going to be a poor relation of other cities like Cambridge, aren’t we?
CERESTE: Well, I mean, I don’t really think so. It is sad that the Cresset is closing ..
STAINTON: You don’t think so Marco? Why not?
CERESTE: We’re not the poor relations of Cambridge. You know I really get fed up with everybody having a go about Peterborough all the time.
STAINTON: But we’re not going to have a decent theatre Marco.
CERESTE: Well if you let me speak, and then you let me finish, you might get an answer to your question.
STAINTON: Go on then.
CERESTE: Right. Now. There’s a charity talking to the Broadway Theatre to see if that can be brought back on line. The Council is talking to the congregation of St John’s Church in the Cathedral Square to see if we can turn that, as well as a place of worship, but also into a place for concerts and music and drama. And we as a council as you very well know have put four million pounds into the new Peterborough Culture and Sports Trust, and part of that money will go to opening the Key Theatre on a much more regular basis, so we can have much more things happening at the Key Theatre. The other project, which is in the pipeline right now, is to redevelop the Moyes End Stand at Peterborough Football Ground so that part of work that the stand will do will also be a concert facility. So don’t keep comparing us with places and say that Peterborough is worse than other places all the time Paul, because I don’t like that.
STAINTON: Peterborough’s nightlife I’m talking about here people will ..
CERESTE: Yes well.
STAINTON: You talk about redeveloping the Moyes End. Fine. That’s fine. That’s going to take time. The Key Theatre thing, we’re going to talk more about that next week, but it’s not going to attract top-name acts, is it? We’re going to be left as a poor relation.
CERESTE: Well we’re not. Because if we redevelop the Moyes End .. the whole point of doing that is that you can attract the really big ..
STAINTON: Eventually.
CERESTE: Well yes eventually. But the Cresset is not run by Peterborough City Council. If the people of this city want to spend another perhaps another per cent on their rates, to pay for the Cresset, then that’s fine. Every time I come to you and I say we’ve got to put rates up everybody goes ballistic. We’ve been asked .. we’ve been told that the cost of running the Cresset is twenty five thousand pounds a month. Now whether that’s right or wrong, that’s what I’ve been told. Do the people of this city want us to spend twenty five thousand pounds a month on an organisation which clearly is not sustainable? However valuable it is it’s clearly not sustainable. Now we’ve spoken to them. We’ve had lots of talks with them, and we’ve said, look, can you come up with a business plan to redevelop the whole site, which is what they want to do, and create a centre that is sustainable? And we will support that. We will put money into that. But the alternative is just to put money into something that is never sustainable and is going to be a constant drain on the public purse.
STAINTON: How long are we away then from getting a new concert venue at London Road? How far along are we with those plans?
CERESTE: Aww it could be two years easily. It could easily be two years.
STAINTON: So we could be two years without any big-name acts coming to Peterborough.
CERESTE: Well not necessarily. Because there is .. as I said there is a charity .. there is a charity talking to the people at the Broadway, to try and bring back .. that back on line. And if that happens, then that will happen very quickly. And we would support that as well. But you know Paul you and I both know there are limits to how much money this local authority has got.
STAINTON: Of course.
CERESTE; You can’t .. there are thousands of other really worthy things that we need in the city, which we just cannot support. We have to do what we can.
STAINTON: But people would argue, listening to this this morning Marco, that some of the money we’ve spent on other things should have been spent on safeguarding things like this.
CERESTE: Yes but you could argue that all day long, couldn’t you? In all fairness Paul, you could argue all that all day long. We’ve set the budget for this year. The budget’s been set, the rates have been set, where are we going to find another three hundred thousand pounds this year. If somebody had argued that three months ago we could have taken that into consideration, and said, well ok, don’t do that, we’ll do this. But the budget for two thousand and ten eleven has been set, As much as you know I think the Cresset Theatre has been really good, I’ve supported it myself, I’ve been to functions there.
STAINTON: Yes. Me too,
CERESTE: It’s great. It was a really good facility. Now we need to work with the YMCA to see if we can bring something back on line that works and can be sustainable.
STAINTON: On the subject of the Moyes End development, Audrey has been on already. Obviously you’ll have a bit of disruption to that.
STAINTON: She said “will there be local consultation, proper local consultation, before .. with the residents .. before you develop that Moyes End?”
CERESTE: Of course. That goes without saying. Of course it does. Absolutely. Absolutely. We realise what all the problems are. We have to provide proper car parking, move it away from the residents, all sorts of things like that. But of course there’ll be proper consultation. That’s the way we do things in Peterborough.
STAINTON: Marco, thank you for that. Marco Cereste Leader of Peterborough City Council, talking about the Cresset there this morning. Your views appreciated … Are we the poor relation of other cities? Will we be without somewhere for us to attract big acts for the next two or three years until the Moyes End is developed?
We’ll talk to Sharon McAllister from ESP Magazine, Peterborough’s number one entertainment magazine next.

ESP Interview.