Platform’s cost to the taxpayer

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The Platform venue in Morecambe has cost the taxpayer almost £400,000 since 2008.

But despite a vastly reduced budget since 2010, the venue, in Marine Road Central, has managed to increase its income year on year and was nominated as one of the country’s most improved civic, cultural and community venues by the Association of Public Sector Excellence.

The Platform, which picked up the mantle for music and events from The Dome when it was demolished in 2010, has cost Lancaster City Council £376,366 over a four year period.

The council initially said that The Platform would receive investment following the closure of The Dome, but in 2010, its budget was slashed from £131,400 to £77,100, a reduction of £54,300.

The revised budget for the Platform for 2012/13 is £77,300.

In 2010/11, the venue took £203,871 compared to £178,351 in 2009/10, an increase of £25,506.

Expenditure in 2009/10 was £307,781.69, which reduced to £262,857.65 in 2010/11 but then increased to £282,743.44 in 2011/12.

The venue’s accounts show that it has come in under budget for the last four years.

Coun Ron Sands, the city council’s cabinet member with responsibility for culture, said The Platform was a community arts venue “in the true sense of the word”, providing a valuable service to the community with a diverse mix of events that appeal to a wide variety of audiences.

He said: “Regular community events include the free lunchtime concerts, sequence dancing, flower club, blood donor sessions, coffee mornings, and collectors’ fairs.

“It also has a huge role to play in the council’s festivals programme.

“These community events are balanced with a range of comedy, music, theatre and other shows which bring in an income.

“Income has risen in recent years across the board with the new bar, in particular, both contributing to an increased income and better service to customers.”

Keith Lewis, one of the organisers of the popular Tutti Frutti Festival, held at The Platform, said: “As far as I’m aware, the money being spent on The Platform is non-existent, but the community needs a venue, but it’s a shame we haven’t got a bigger, better venue.

“Tutti Frutti sold out this year and we could have sold another 150 tickets, which is frustrating for Morecambe’s economy.”

Mr Lewis said an investment in blinds on the roof would help create a better atmosphere inside the venue during the summer.

“I can’t understand why taxpayers are putting so much money in when it doesn’t seem like that much has been done.

Next year, performances at The Platform include Chantel McGregor, Stacey Kent, Tipitina, Chris Packham, Barry Cryer and Horrible Histories.