Redbridge Council ‘intends to’ renew Kenneth More Theatre lease

A proposal to renew the lease of the Kenneth More Theatre (KMT) will be voted by cabinet next month.

Redbridge council today said that the length and terms of the 37-year-old theatre’s lease would be decided behind closed doors by cabinet members at the meeting at Redbridge Town Hall on December 6.

The surprise announcement came after senior councillors repeatedly refused to quash rumours that they planned to close the theatre and move drama productions to the Sir James Hawkey Hall, Broomhill Road, Woodford Green, after failing to renew the playhouse’s lease for 18 months.

The statement said: “Subject to approval by cabinet, the council intends to enter into a new lease with the Kenneth More Theatre, after the usual legal negotiations and procedures for agreeing such a lease.

“The public will be excluded from this part of the cabinet agenda because some of the legal information included in the report is restricted but of course the public are welcome to speak about this or anything else in the open part of the agenda. We hope that the arrangements will be concluded very quickly.”

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The announcement was cautiously welcomed by chairman of the KMT board John Lovell, who first heard of the plans when he was telephoned by the Recorder this evening (Friday).

He said: “I am pleased to see they are re-leasing the theatre, it now has a future and I look forward to reading the small print.

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“But what concerns me is that I have been talking to Redbridge Council for a long time and no one has had the courtesy to inform me of this statement which is so important to me and everybody involved in the theatre.”

Mr Lovell said the security of the KMT’s future now depends on the length and terms of the lease.

Last week the director of the Theatre’s Trust, Mhora Samuel, wrote to Redbridge Council chief executive Roger Hampson to express his alarm over reports the theatre may close.

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