The ERL Committee was due to meet on Tuesday 19 January, however, the frequent changes in the coronavirus position introduced by the government to Maidstone, have altered the borough from Tier 3 to 4 and seen a national lockdown introduced in the past month. This has meant that restrictions have been altered several times and it has been difficult for solid, fully remodelled business forecasts to be prepared by the Council and its contractor Parkwood Leisure for the Hazlitt Arts Centre in time for the originally scheduled meeting.
The ERL Committee meeting will therefore be delayed until Tuesday 26 January to allow extra time for detailed forecasts and reports to be prepared.
Cllr Paul Harper, Chair of the Economic Regeneration and Leisure Committee said:
“Maidstone Borough is working in partnership with Parkwood Leisure but it is clear that because of the ever-changing Covid-19 government guidance and restrictions, that some additional time is required to get the information that our decision makers will need to be sufficiently informed before making any further decisions. The information and business forecasts will help councillors weigh- up the various future options for the Hazlitt Arts Centre so it is vitally important that sufficient time is given to allow it to be prepared.”
The future of the Hazlitt Arts Centre was initially discussed at the Council’s ERL Committee meeting held on 12 November. The decision made at that meeting was then ‘called in’ under the Decision Referral Process and reviewed by MBC’s Policy and Resources Committee on 25 November 2020. At that meeting it was agreed that: The four resolutions of the ERL Committee on 12 November concerning the Hazlitt Theatre, be substituted with a resolution: that the matter be deferred until the ERL Committee meets on 19 January 2021. So as to allow greater clarity on issues such as external funding and Covid related developments and to facilitate further member and stakeholder engagement in determining the best method of retaining the Hazlitt for years to come.