The Reader: Theatres are precious, so let’s support them

Firefighters outside the Piccadilly Theatre: PA

We would like to thank the excellent, well-trained staff at the Piccadilly Theatre who reacted quickly and professionally on Wednesday night to ensure that more than 1,000 theatre-goers were safely evacuated . These staff have been commended by many people attending the performance.

In addition, we would also like to highlight the importance of continuing to invest in our theatre heritage.

These beautiful buildings are an integral part of London’s history and a huge asset worthy of preservation and we want to encourage our audiences to go and see a show to support them.

The Society of London Theatre continues to advocate for the maintenance of theatre venues in the West End and across the UK, and support our members with guidance and best-practice advice.
Julian Bird, Chief Executive, Society of London Theatre

Editor's reply

Dear Julian
I agree that the staff at the Piccadilly deserve praise — it’s a shame it took an incident like this to make us appreciate the contribution that front of house and backstage staff make to the theatre-going experience. These people, often young and hoping for a starrier career in theatre, receive none of the applause that those onstage get, yet they, like the performers, do their jobs out of commitment and love. I can think of several playwrights and actors who started out as ushers, programme sellers and box-office staff.

Caring for historic buildings that are also working theatres — and which must comply with modern strictures on access and safety — is not easy. But it is one that most theatre owners undertake with proper diligence.

London remains the pre-eminent theatre capital of the world, and our stock of historic playhouses is a part of that. I am sure that audiences will continue to come.
Nick Curtis, Theatre Critic

Canal basins can be ‘village greens’

Canal basins are the new village greens” [Homes & Property, November 6] is a lovely headline but not strictly accurate.

A village green is land (or water) which is registered as such with the local authority, either because local people have enjoyed recreation there, without challenge or permission, for at least 20 years, or because a beneficent landowner has voluntarily registered it.

Once registered it is protected from encroachment and development by 19th-century legislation, and local people have legal rights of recreation there.

So, to secure the canal basins for recreational use for ever, the owners of basins should voluntarily register them as a green.

The Open Spaces Society can help achieve that.
Kate Ashbrook, General Secretary, The Open Spaces Society

Brexit will bring no investment

Boris Johnson claims that “hundreds of billions” of investment will pour into the country if his Brexit plan goes through.

This is nonsense. The only way to get anything remotely approaching “hundreds of billions” is to revoke Article 50 and remain in the European Union.
Alan Pavelin

Parties’ unholy Remain alliance

While acknowledging alliances reference its Liberal/SDP origins, the Liberal Democrats’ latest with the Greens and Plaid Cymru really is the unholiest of trinities.

A Plaid Cymru/Green alliance was humiliated at the 1991 Monmouth by-election by David Sutch’s Monster Raving Loonies, followed by Plaid severing ties with its Green allies within six months of the 1992 general election once Cynog Dafis had won Ceredigion and the Greens were no longer of use to them.

Most ironic of all for this self-styled Remain alliance, Plaid Cymru and the Greens have both been anti-European Union in the past.

Like the Liberal Democrats, they became pro-EU when a percentage of MEPs’ salaries helped keep their parties alive. Self-interest, not the national interest.

This is not an alliance of principle. This is an alliance of convenience by those scrabbling to sustain their existence, in fear of an electorate gaining their chance to clean out a rotten Parliament.
Mark Boyle