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No freebie tickets for councillors under new Sunderland Empire Theatre management agreement

July 14, 2021 9:18 AM
By Ciaran Morrissey

Liberal Democrats on Wearside have welcomed a decision to axe freebie tickets for councillors as an extended lease and management agreement for the Empire Theatre is agreed by Civic Centre chiefs.

Ciaran Morrissey

Councillor Ciaran Morrissey

Sunderland City Council's cabinet will today (13th July) agree an extended lease and management agreement for the city's Empire Theatre with operator ATG.

Under previous agreements on the management of the Empire Theatre Sunderland Council had requested that complementary tickets were given to the Council.

These tickets were subsequently offered to city councillors by the Council on a non-transferrable basis meaning they couldn't be given to charities, community groups or raffled off for good causes.

Following a campaign from opposition Liberal Democrats in the city the practice of issuing free tickets for councillors was informally ended last year.

Council bosses have now confirmed that they won't be requesting a return to complementary tickets as part of the extended lease and management agreement for the Empire being agreed today.

Liberal Democrat councillor for Hendon and Grangetown Ciaran Morrissey commented:

"For years Labour and Conservative councillors in Sunderland were taking advantage of freebie tickets for the theatre instead of paying for them just like everyone else does.

"This was as shocking as it was shameful, with the added insult that councillors were barred from giving the complementary tickets away to raise money of a charity or to give to local community and voluntary groups.

"Thankfully we managed to shame council bosses into stopping these freebie tickets being dished out a few years ago, but with this new, extended lease and management agreement for the Empire we wanted to make sure the Council wouldn't be trying to sneak in a return to the bad old days of perks and freebies.

"We will keep up the pressure to scrap perks, freebies and axe un-necessary expenses for councillors in Sunderland."