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Echo readers vote for a new theatre

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: January 03, 2013

By Tom Bevan

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A POLL carried out by the Express and Echo's website has revealed that the majority of readers are in favour of a new theatre for the city.

The results have been finalised in our poll asking the question: "Does Exeter need a new theatre?" It began in early December and has attracted hundreds of votes.

It revealed that 61 per cent were in favour and 39 per cent against the idea.

In another poll in October we asked: "What would you like to see in the redevelopment of the bus station site?" This resulted in many readers contacting us to suggest a new theatre. In the same poll 47 per cent said a swimming pool and 16 per cent said new shops.

In September more than 300 people signed a petition calling for a theatre in the centre of Exeter and in early December a meeting was organised by Exeter Civic Society on the matter.

The civic society, which has made it clear it is neither for nor against a new theatre, has agreed to host further meetings.

The initial meeting arose following discussions about the re-development of Exeter's bus and coach station, which many see as being a great location for a new 1,200-seat theatre.

Keith Lewis, vice chairman of the society, said after the meeting: "Most of the feeling in the room was very positive, with people not wanting to threaten the existence of the theatres we already have.

"People did say they thought Northcott is not right for Exeter, saying it is not in the right place and doesn't put on the sort of shows they want to see.

"We have not got endless funding, but we are prepared to host further meetings.

"We will write to those who have expressed an interest, inviting them to another meeting, if that's what they want to do."

Andrew Leadbetter, city and county councillor, who attended the meeting, said: "I have an open mind and wanted to find out more.

"I do think it would be lovely to walk past a theatre in the centre of Exeter, see what's on and think 'I would like to go and see that', but don't know if it's feasible. I think the city council should investigate it more."

The city council has consistently said a theatre the size of the Theatre Royal in Plymouth is not sustainable, and would be unlikely to attract funding.

The authority said it would rather have a new swimming pool as part of the bus station redevelopment.

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