YOUNGSTERS from Chester will be given apprenticeships on construction of the city’s new theatre say council chiefs.
They have also agreed to investigate whether a cinema could return to the city centre before the scheduled theatre opening in 2016.
Cheshire West and Chester Council’s (CWaC) executive backed proposals for the £40.5 million theatre and cultural venue last week.
The former Odeon building will be transformed to house an 800-seat theatre, 200-seat studio theatre, two studio cinemas along with cafes, bars and the city’s library.
Labour’s culture spokeswoman councillor Louise Gittins told the executive the project would be a perfect opportunity to create much needed jobs for young people.
Cllr Herbert Manley, executive member for prosperity, has now confirmed the council will insist that apprenticeships are created for local young people as part of the construction contract.
He said: “It is the council’s policy to ensure that apprenticeships are created and local firms and labour used whenever possible on any of our projects. This is happening on the £8.8 million Lion Salt Works project in Northwich and will certainly be a major consideration in drawing up our contract for the construction of the theatre.”
Cllr Manley has also responded to calls by city centre councillor Samantha Dixon for the project to be phased so one of the cinemas can open before 2016.
She had told the executive: “Cinema operators are chomping at the bit to come to Chester as your officers know. Only last week, an operator who read the story online approached us because they would like to be part of this scheme.
“It strikes me that bringing cinema back would be quick to do, cost effective and would give us something to do in the evenings.”
Cllr Manley said the nature of the site meant that the complex would be completed as part of a phased construction programme.
He said: “It may be that we could consider the cinema as part of the audience development program but using a different location until the theatre complex was ready.”