DISCUSSIONS over the future of the Thameside Theatre in Grays were officially launched during a Council cabinet meeting last night.

Council leader, John Kent, said it was important to consider the future of the entire complex, situated in Orsett Road.

He said: “There has been some interesting and useful debate about this item in the past couple of weeks and I think everyone’s accepted that all options are still open, although of course doing nothing is unlikely to be the final answer.

“But I want the group we set up to look at all the various options to make sure they include the ‘do nothing’ proposal because I really do want them to look at all ideas and suggestions.

“Only by doing that can we say with confidence that we’re taking the decisions.”

He added: “Of course, this item is about more than just the theatre, it’s about the future of the whole complex.

“Is the seven-storey office block useful to the council? Could we lease it as office space? Should we convert it into flats or knock it down and build homes?

“Does the town’s library have to be housed in the complex – would the Civic Offices be as good or better – what sort of museum do we want?

He also called for a wide-ranging debate asking everyone to put forward their views over the coming weeks.

He said: “I want everyone to get involved with this discussion over the next few weeks; people should make their views known and suggest new and different ways to move forward.

“But they should also remember that the council is not the all-seeing, all-knowing organisation some think we are.”