Special school moves to take over Hartlepool Art Gallery cafe

Hartlepool Art Gallery in Church Square
Hartlepool Art Gallery in Church Square

HARTLEPOOL’S flagship art gallery could soon be serving up snacks to visitors once again after an offer to managers by a town school.

Hartlepool Art Gallery’s cafe closed in December 2013 along with other local authority-run facilities that failed to make a profit.

But the council has been approached by Catcote Academy, which is offering to provide a new catering facility at the art gallery in Christchurch.

Officers say the idea will help adults with learning difficulties to gain valuable work experience and provide the gallery with a much-needed cafe again.

Catcote Academy’s offer will be discussed by the council’s Finance and Policy Committee when it meets in the Civic Centre tomorrow.

Papers for the meeting state: “Since the decision was taken to close the cafe facility in the art gallery in December 2013, Catcote special school has approached the council with an offer to operate the art gallery at no cost to the council.

“The benefits of this option are that this will be supporting adults with special needs to gain valuable work experience and could provide a Fair Trade option.”

The report says opening times would be between 10.30am and 2.30pm.

Council offers have proposed the school is offered a 12-month contract to operate the cafe.

The report adds: “During this 12-month period the success of this option should be assessed and alternative long-term solutions considered in line with the vision for Church Square.”

Four workers were made redundant after the council decided to close the cafes in the art gallery and central library.

It was after the coffee shops, including one at the Wingfield Castle at Hartlepool Maritime Experience, failed to make a profit despite the council investment and faced increasing competition from private companies.

It was decided to keep the Wingfield Castle coffee shop but look at its future as part of a wider feasibility study of the attraction.