The cultural heart of the borough looks set to be torn out after the council published plans to close its two theatres and Wallington Hall and offer them up to developers.
Plans, published in papers prepared for the Environment and Neighbourhood Committee on September 4, reveal the council is considering closing The Charles Cryer Theatre and workshop in Carshalton, The Secombe Theatre, Sutton and Wallington Public Hall.
The two theatres will be offered to community groups or private enterprise to take-over, with a workshop in September planned to give details on how the transfer of ownership could be made, but council officers have stated a leasing of the buildings would not be possible, and a very robust business plan would need to be presented to prevent the venues being put onto the market for potential development.
Groups interested in trying to take over the two theatres have also been warned there will be no option of providing a discount or reduced cost to purchasing either venue, with both expected to be valued in the millions.
Should councillors agree the move Wallington Public Hall, which hosts numerous private functions, entertainment and community activities, would be placed on the market to be developed.
Other cultural assets such as Whitehall, Honeywood Museum and Little Holland House have been granted protection as buildings of historical importance.
Grove Hall has also been exempted due to its use as a nursery, but the Life Centre, a source of controversy since it opened, could be in the firing line.
The announcement is the first major proposal put forward as part of the Suttons Future campaign, as the council looks to cut £40m from its budget over the next five years.
From Tuesday, September 9, people can submit their views on the proposals via an online survey at www.suttonsfuture.org.
Councillor Colin Hall, deputy leader of the council, said: "The reality is the Secombe and Charles Cryer are used by a very small number of people - only about 22 per cent of the borough, use them, and it is quite heavily subsides. It is of course not something we want to do, but we have to look at making cuts that are fair on the whole community."
Coun Hall described Wallington Hall as exceptionally run down, adding: "We think the right thing to do is sell it off."
In the council paper it was stated the eight venues, of which at least three are under threat, cost the council £2.2m a year, but only generate £420,000 in revenue. This equates to a subsidy of £5.65 for every person who uses them.
Protection of the three historic houses is hoped to be made more manageable by the securing of heritage lottery fund money, with more than £1m in grants applied for at each site.
Leader of the opposition Tim Crowley said: "I am saddened to hear of the proposals of the council to withdraw it's funding for the Secombe and Charles cryer theatres, especially when the subsidy to the failing life centre is costing 3 times as much as that of the arts centres.
"It is also rich of Coun Hall to quote the figure of only 22 per cent of residents attending these venues.
"Can I remind Cllr Hall that 22 per cent is 6 per cent more residents than gave the Lib Dems a mandate in Mays local elections."
Emily Brothers, the Labour Party parliamentary candidate for Sutton and Cheam, said: "Apparently other community facilities across the borough will be similarly affected, but unsurprisingly the Lib Dem vanity project with the Sutton Life Centre will be protected with a significant ongoing subsidy.
“This anticipated announcement demonstrates why you can’t trust Lib Dems to protect Sutton heritage, arts and culture."
An Arts Development Outreach Service is also planned to help art groups find funding and venues to perform.
Residents have until October 3 to take part in an online survey as part of suttonsfuture.org, before a final decision is taken in November.
Should plans be approved the venues will be shut and placed on the market in March next year.
How do you feel about the proposals? What services should be cut, and what services should be protected as the council strive to trim £40m from their budget. Give us a call on 0208 722 6358, or email email@example.com