Ballyearl theatre seating replaced for safety issues

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NEWTOWNABBEY council is to replace seating at Ballyearl Courtyard Theatre because of “serious health and safety concerns”.

Councillors were informed that a budget surplus of £90,000 would be allocated for the replacement seating at the venue.

At the October 22 Policy and Governance Committee meeting Councillor Mark Cosgrove, queried the expenditure.

Chief executive Jacqui Dixon responded: “There has been serious health and safety concerns with the seating for some time and these funds presented the opportunity to have the work carried out.”

Councillor John Scott added: “The seating in the Courtyard theatre is in much need of replacing.

“For anyone that has ever been in it would know how hazardous the seats are and the railing on the steps is very unsteady.”

Following the meeting the council said the health and safety problems with the seating did not pose a threat to members of the public.

“The seating in the Courtyard Theatre was installed when the theatre opened in 1993 and was designed to retract to allow flexible use of the flat floor space,” said a statement to the Times.

“Given its age and high levels of use the condition of the retractable mechanism of this seating has deteriorated over the years. This has in turn led to the operation of the mechanism to retract the seating becoming a health and safety concern for the staff who carry out this operation.

“As a result the seating has been permanently in place in recent months and will remain in an auditorium layout without the option to retract and therefore provide a flat floor facility.

“This has reduced the flexibility of the space and thus the range of space options available for the programming of the theatre and also those customers who wish to hire the facility.

“The seating in Ballyearl has not posed any health and safety risks for theatre goers.”