DEVELOPER cash should be spent not on a new piece of public art but on restoring Wallingford’s theatre, it has been argued.

Supermarket firm Morrisons will hand over £50,000 to be spent on “public art” as part of a deal agreed to bring a store to the town.

But the Corn Exchange in Market Place will be in need of a new roof by next year in a project which could cost £500,000.

John Warburton, manager of the Grade II listed theatre, said the venue offered “public art” and needed the money as it was run by volunteers.

He said: “I do not think the Corn Exchange is a better candidate than any other charity but I do not think an artist who gets paid £50,000 is the best choice in these hard times.”

Morrisons won planning permission last July for a 30,000sqft store on the Hithercroft estate which it says will create 300 jobs and give a £6.7m boost to the local economy every year.

As part of the agreement to move to the town, the chain will have to provide funding for art in the town.

Wallingford mayor Bernard Stone said he welcomed the idea of giving the art money to the 176-seat theatre, run by The Sinodun Players, but said it would depend on whether theatre could be considered a form of public art under the Section 106 agreement covering developer contributions.