Mansfield Council eyes new contract for town’s popular panto – oh yes it does

Council bosses are eyeing a new contract to provide Mansfield’s hugely popular Christmas panto – which has been staged by the same company for the last 20 years.

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 8:04 am
Updated Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 8:27 am

The annual Christmas event at the Palace Theatre, on Leeming Street, is massively popular with Mansfield families – with UK Productions providing the service since 2000/01.

Its latest production, Sleeping Beauty, opens on Friday, having been postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But Mansfield Council is proposing to remove an automatic renewal clause in its contract with the company.

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Palace Theatre, Leeming Street, Mansfield.

Council documents state the annual cost of the production varies between £200,000 and £250,000 depending on demand.

Documents say that, as part of its automatically-renewed contract signed in 2019/20, UK Productions was signed up to provide the following three years of performance.

This includes Cinderella in 2019/20, the Sleeping Beauty performances starting this week, and the 2022/23 shows.

However, in a delegated decision next week, David Evans, the authority’s head of health and communities, is recommended to approve terms of a new contract with UK Productions, which would only provide permission to run the pantomime for the coming two years.

Adam Moss is Silly Billy in Sleeping Beauty at Mansfield's Palace Theatre.

This, the documents state, will come with the removal of the renewal clause, which has been in place since the first contract 21 years ago.

The authority plans to undertake a full review of its pantomime procurement in the future, to ensure it receives ‘value for money’ on the performances.

The documents say: “The proposal is for the council to enter into a new contract with UK Productions for the presentation of pantomimes in 2021/22 and 2022/23, but with the removal of the automatic renewal clause, or provision for the cultural services manager to determine that the contract should not be renewed, based on the financial outcome of the performance.

“The cultural services manager intends to undertake a full review of all procurement options available for the delivery of the pantomime in the future, while also ensuring the council is receiving value for money and complying with the procurement regulations.”

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‘Negative publicity’

An alternative to the recommendation was to not enter the contract with UK Productions and to go out to procurement immediately.

However, documents state the company could seek to enforce its option to deliver the pantomime under its existing contract, with performances due to begin on Friday.

The council viewed the second option as providing the risk of ‘negative publicity’, impacting people who had already paid for tickets in 2020 that were transferred over to this year’s performances.

The upcoming Sleeping Beauty performances feature regular funny man Adam Moss returning to play Silly Billy.

It will also feature Casualty star Rebecca Wheatley as The Good Fairy, Channel 5 Milkshake! presenter Amy Thompson as Princess Briar Rose and veteran dame Philip Meeks as Nursie – tickets are now on sale from mansfieldpalace.co.uk

UK Productions is responsible for a number of pantos across the country this year, including Peter Pan in Bournemouth, starring former EastEnders star Shaun Williamson, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in Blackpool, starring former Coronation Street star Vicky Entwistle, and Beauty & The Beast in New Brighton, starring Gavin & Stacey’s Melanie Walters and Milkshake! presenter Olivia Birchenough, who both appeared in Cinderella in Mansfield two years ago.

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