THE Dixon Studio at Westcliff’s Palace Theatre has been forced to close after the discovery of potentially crumbling concrete.

The Dixon Studio, which is within the Palace Theatre in Westcliff, has been closed off after the council discovered the presence of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac).

Raac had been used in constructions between the mid-1950’s and mid-1990’s, but has been the subject of intense national scrutiny this past week.

Over the summer, the Department for Education became aware that Raac can fail within warning, and all buildings containing this must now be taken out of use until mitigations are in place.

As a result, dozens of schools across Essex were forced to close.

Derek Jarvis, councillor member for arts, culture, heritage, and leisure, said: “As concern over the use of Raac has heightened in recent weeks and the potential failures in the product came to light, the council’s property team has been working diligently to carry out risk assessments and identify any potential areas within council-owned buildings where there is a presence of Raac.

“To date, only one area has had to be closed as a result, and that is the Dixon Studio within the Palace Theatre, and we are working closely with Trafalgar Theatres to discuss next steps.”

The Dixon Studio is a 100-seat studio located on the first floor of the Palace Theatre.

The studio is regularly used for a range of small-scale presentations including both amateur and professional productions, stand-up comedians, and children’s theatre.

Seats are unallocated in the Dixon Studio, and it is reached by a single-flight staircase or, for disabled patrons, a single-person lift.

Daniel Cowan, Southend Labour leader, added: “We have to praise the council property maintenance team for very quickly undertaking surveys to find out where we have Raac present and where discovered, they have taken swift action.

“Deciding to close the Dixon Studio in the Palace Theatre is the right thing to do.”

Kevin Robinson, Labour spokesman for business, culture and tourism, added: “The whole of the ceiling has a black form of Raac.

“The council followed the advice set out by the Department for Education to close down sites containing the material straight away. It is a public building, and it needs to be safe.”