As you may know, the Government has been taking steps to reduce the amount borrowed to pay for Government activities. In 2010 the Government borrowed £1 for every £4 spent, which is simply not sustainable in the long term – we cannot burden future generations with this level of debt.
Over the last four years, the Government has taken difficult financial decisions and reduced this deficit by a third and we have spending plans in place to deliver a balanced budget by 2018.
This deficit cannot be eliminated by growth alone, which means that all departments with unprotected budgets (spending on things such health and pensions is protected) need to find further ways to reduce costs. In Sutton, this means finding £40m in savings over the next four years.
Given the above, Sutton Council are looking at ways to reduce the amount of money that is spent on local theatres, which are currently used by just over 1 out of 5 of the local population and are subsidised by £6 per user.
I recognise the importance of the arts and I am pleased that Sutton Council are looking at ways to allow local arts groups to take over our local theatres. I understand that Sutton Council is also looking at setting up an Arts Outreach service that will fund and provide advice to local theatre groups.
In the coming weeks, your local elected Councillors will be discussing a range of proposals to reduce the cost of the services they provide. I have passed on your comments to the Councillor responsible for leisure services in Sutton and asked them to take your views into consideration. Thank you for raising your concerns with me.