BRIDGWATER Town Council has approved a rescue plan to save the Grade I listed Bridgwater Arts Centre.

The Arts Centre suddenly announced a six month closure of the theatre in November due to repair works needed to the roof, and several productions were cancelled.

Cash flow problems mounted and two members of staff were made redundant.

However in the meantime members of Bridgwater Town Council have joined with committed volunteers to breathe new life into the Arts Centre,.

A new volunteer-led board has been formed with a programme of events taking place in the bar and gallery area, keeping people coming into the venue while the main theatre is out of action.

A conditions survey indicated that £35,000 would need to be spent over three years, of which £13,200 was needed for urgent repairs to bring the theatre back into use.

At Thursday night's meeting, Bridgwater Town Council agreed a rescue package which includes £13,200 to be taken from the council Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) money, a £5,000 grant that had been on hold until the conditions survey report was complete, and a £1,000 grant from the Westover Ward to assist with interim arrangements.

There are further proposals to take money from the CIL in future years, however it was agreed that these measures would have to be put to the new council after the elections in May.

It was also agreed that Bridgwater Arts Centre would investigate alternative quotes for insurance and request phase payments to manage cash flow and allow continued use of the building and the earliest re-opening of the theatre.

Bridgwater Town Council will also meet with Sedgemoor District Council regarding the handover of the lease of the building, allowing the town council to takeover the ownership and management of the building.

The projected earliest start of the new arrangements is September 2019.

Town council leader Cllr Brian Smedley said: "Bridgwater Arts Centre was the first Arts Centre in the UK and I think it is a good use of our CIL money to protect an important part of the town's heritage."