Wrangle over open air theatre

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a bitter war of words has broken out after the announcement of Scarborough Open Air Theatre’s summer programme of entertainment was halted.

It had been expected details of events, originally due last November, would be made public by the £3.5m venue’s operator, Apollo Leisure.

But the announcement,just months before the theatre re-opens, has been cancelled and the company’s chairman, Paul Gregg, has laid the blame at the door of Scarborough Borough Council.

The local authority responded by expressing “surprise” at the statement, and said it was still awaiting the Apollo programme for the 2012 season when it had expected details to have been available much earlier.

Graham North, chairman of Scarborough Forum for Tourism, said: “It isn’t good enough. We are very disappointed that there isn’t a plan in place being advertised and promoted for the summer season.

“Whatever the issues between the council and Apollo, they have got to be resolved for the benefit of tourism in Scarborough.

“At other venues, they seem to have it sorted out months ago and they were advertising their events well before Christmas. We have been appealing to Apollo to tell us what is going on since the autumn.”

Mr North added: “There are artists out there who would come to Scarborough and sell 6,000 tickets.

“The Open Air Theatre is a great venue and people will come to the right events.”

Janet Deacon, area director for Welcome to Yorkshire, said the delays meant the venue had already “missed the boat” in terms of advertising and marketing in some publications.

She said: “When there’s a good programme we have got something to shout about and we’ll tell people what’s on offer in Scarborough.

“It’s sad that it’s not out but as soon as it is, we will make sure that it’s marketed as quickly as possible.”

Mr Gregg said he was “extremely disappointed” that the programme, which he claimed was ready to launch, had not been announced but said Apollo was “forced” by the council to delay it.

He said he was waiting until he received the “appropriate assurances” and “support” from the council, but a spokesperson for Apollo refused to go into further details.

Mr Gregg added: “It is the intention of both Apollo Leisure and Ingenious Media to continue to programme a wide range of entertainment into the venue and we are committed to working closely with the local community to ensure the venue is accessible to everyone.”

David Archer, the council’s strategic director, said: “The council notes with some surprise the statement which has been issued by Apollo and awaits their draft programme for 2012’s events.”