The Rose Theatre have spoken out after Kingston Council (RBK) announced plans to withdraw funding for the venue.

On Thursday (May 16) RBK issued a statement outlining their plans to wind down funding for the well-loved theatre, which were first mooted at a Policy and Resources Committee in April 2015.

The council said due to recent cuts to its budget it would provide £531,000 in funding over the next three years, including £265,000 for this financial year, but would make no commitment for funding beyond this.

In response, executives at the Rose Theatre issued a statement of their own sent to the Surrey Comet, which praised RBK for its past and present funding and warned of the losses that ending this support would entail.

A spokesperson for the Rose Theatre said: "Rose Theatre Kingston has been vital to the community it serves throughout its 11-year life.

"The support from the Royal Borough of Kingston allows young people across the borough to take part in and experience world class theatre.

"Total withdrawal of council funds would place great uncertainty around the future of these and other programmes from which the people of Kingston benefit directly."

The statement echoed the sentiments of the theatre’s Chairman Chris Foy, who wrote to RBK in a strongly-worded letter that was publicised earlier this week.

In the letter, Mr Foy said RBK's plans "cannot be viewed as a considered initiative."

Addressing Council Leader Liz Green and Deputy Leader Malcolm Self directly, Mr Foy added: "You have no idea how damaging your plans will be, to the theatre and to all those (particularly children and young people) who benefit directly from the support you provide."

The backlash to RBK's plans included a recent petition titled "Save Kingston's Rose Theatre" that had attracted over 4,000 signatures on the 38 Degrees campaigning website by 2pm on Friday (May 17).

RBK meanwhile seemed set to follow through on its plans to scale back the money it provides to the Rose Theatre and eventually end it.

Responding to a request for comment from the Comet, RBK said it had invested "over £7.5m in the theatre" since it was founded and cited the squeeze on its own finances as a key factor behind the decision.

"We will continue to be a major supporter of the Rose in future and will provide £531k of funding over the next 3 years, including £265k for this financial year.

"At a time when our budgets have been significantly cut, we need to prioritise how we spend the money available to us.

"This means making some tough decisions to ensure we can continue to provide vital social care services for children and adults as well as the borough's most vulnerable residents and universal services such as waste collection and street cleaning," a spokesperson for RBK said.

The leadership of the Rose Theatre for their part warned RBK of oversight in its decision to pull funding could be short-sighted.

The Rose Theatre spokesperson said: "The theatre, in its current guise, brings a far greater financial benefit to the borough than the comparatively small funding it receives, and the impact of its removal would be felt far beyond the local community."