Sad news reaches us about the Ventnor Winter Gardens – the Town Clerk of the Ventnor Town Council tells us that because the Isle of Wight council intend to dispose of the Winter Gardens by 31 March 2011, VTC say they have no alternative but to close it next month. This statement just in from Ventnor Town clerk. Ed
Since 1995 Ventnor Town Council has run the Winter Gardens under a Management Agreement with its owners, the Isle of Wight Council. An annual management fee has been paid by the IoW Council to the Town Council.
This has been used as a subsidy against running costs. In addition the town itself has subsidised the Winter Gardens annually by way of the locally raised part of the Council Tax, the precept.
In the current economic circumstances both Councils have had to reassess those subsidies. Recently, intensive talks have taken place between the County and Town Councils to try to ensure a future for the Winter Gardens which will best serve the interests of Ventnor.
IWC to dispose of building
After careful consideration of the implications of the IoW Council’s need to dispose of the Winter Gardens by 31 March 2011 and a thorough assessment of the condition of the building, the loss of the Management fee, the trading activity and the precept subsidies necessary to support it, in the context of the likely devolution of other services, Ventnor Town Council has regretfully judged that it cannot justify taking ownership of the site from 1 April.
Conscious of its duty to mitigate the known losses of the remaining out-of-season trading months, Ventnor Town Council has agreed to the closure of the building by 31 January 2011. Staff have been informed, redundancy notices are being issued and trading will cease on 21 January 2011.
Public meeting will explain decision
Ventnor Town Council will be holding a public meeting at the Winter Gardens on 12 January to set out the background to their decision and a joint statement with the Isle of Wight Council, with whom the Town Council will continue to work in partnership over the building’s future, will be issued on 4 January 2011
Update – This statement in from the IW Council Press Office
Ventnor Town Council has indicated to IW Council that it can no longer run the attraction and wishes to end its current management arrangement in the New Year.
Under the agreement, the town council runs the building and is given an annual subsidy from IW Council which adds to the subsidy provided by the Town Council itself.
The Winter Gardens will therefore close on 31 January 2011. After this date, IW Council and Ventnor Town Council will work together to seek expressions of interest from groups and organisations who may be interested in taking over the building and continuing to provide public access to it.
The facility will be unavailable for a period of time after this date whilst the council formally seeks expressions of interest.
George Brown, Isle of Wight Council Deputy Leader said “While it is unfortunate that the town council has had to end its current management arrangements. I fully understand the reasons given the current financial pressures we are all facing.
“Both ourselves and the town council are determined though that this well appreciated facility should, if at all, possible continue to provide for the needs of the community but under different management arrangements at without public subsidy.
“We look forward to receiving proposals in response to the expressions of interest that we will be issuing in the New Year and to the Town Council’s support in identifying the best option for the benefit of the Town as a whole.”