Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie has visited the Cotswold Playhouse to meet the volunteers and discuss proposed changes to parking that could harm the theatre.
Ms Baillie met with chairperson of trustees Judy Free, outreach volunteer Helen Voice and Margaret Keck, a trustee and front of house.
She was invited to visit following concerns about the county council’s proposals on parking changes in Stroud town. The Playhouse is very concerned it will harm audience numbers and activities because it will limit parking options on performance nights. It will also add costs for the 130 or so volunteers who run the organisation.
The council has proposed an amalgamation of existing parking permit zones and an expansion into a wider area for a new zone referred to as Stroud Zone A along with shared use bays and the introduction of No Waiting at Any Time restrictions.
The idea is to increase residents’ chance of finding a parking space in their own neighbourhood. However, Siobhan has raised concerns to the council on behalf of residents, the playhouse and about the impact on people visiting local hospitals, elderly residents and people who are unwell and reliant on their car or carers visiting.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my visit with the Cotswold Playhouse team,” said Ms Baillie. “It is quite incredible what they manage to achieve given that it is entirely volunteer led and everybody involved must be very proud of how the facility is managed and the standard of performances shown.
“I have spoken before about how the playhouse and others including our local hospitals made a strong case against changes to parking in Stroud town so it was helpful to learn more from this much-loved organisation about why there would be such a negative impact.
“I know that Gloucestershire County council will consider all consultation responses carefully and I am writing to it to see if there is an update.
“The Playhouse understandably also needs certainty so that the trustees can plan properly and I happy to advocate for them on this issue as necessary.”
During the visit, the mental health and social benefits that the members report when they get involved were mentioned along with the many opportunities there are to act, sing or be backstage production.
Judy said: “We submitted a detailed response to the council’s consultation as we are terrified of what the proposed parking restrictions would do to the viability of the Playhouse. This is a community space that is well used and run by volunteers but we are up a hill and rely on everybody being able to park nearby. It is important to us all that the Cotswold Playhouse stays open and that everybody hears our concerns so we are grateful to Siobhan for coming to see us.”
The county council held a consultation on its proposals earlier this year.