A CULTURAL centre, in a prime-time seafront spot, has closed after a year.

The £200,000 taxpayer-funded and council-run café and arts venue has failed to attract enough interest. Southend Council and the Focal Point Gallery opened Twenty One last July.

It was due to run as a cultural centre set to showcase local artists’ work.

The seafront café, opposite Southend Pier, formed part of ongoing multi-million plans to revamp the pier entrance area. Southend Council this week confirmed the venue had closed after the café operator pulled out.

Lesley Salter, councillor responsible for for healthy communities and wellbeing, said: “Following our catering partners withdrawal from their contract, we have taken the difficult decision to temporarily close Twenty One on a day-to-day basis whilst we review options for how the venture might successfully continue.

“We are still honouring existing event bookings at the venue but it will not be open otherwise.”

She claimed it had been a success, despite the closure, with other options now being considered.

Ms Salter added: “Since opening in July last year, Twenty One – managed by Focal Point Gallery – has excelled as an alternative arts and cultural venue, bringing a varied and popular programme of events to the town.

“The venue has seen 125 events organised by 40 local organisations, featuring over 400 artists to a growing audience of over 4,500 people.

“We are determined that Twenty One will continue to play an important role in Southend’s cultural scene but need to consider how the overall offer of the venue might need to be refined in order for it to be operate as a successful, sustainable business.”

The Pier Hill unit was been brought to life after laying empty for 13 years.

The eye-catching, circular building next to the Pier Hill lift had been beset by problems since it was built in 2004, as part of the £6million redevelopment of the hill.

A succession of businesses which showed interest in taking over the unit all pulled out at the last minute, including Costa Coffee and Starbucks, before the council finally stepped in.

The scheme was budgeted for in the council’s capital programme. A decision is yet to be made into what will go into the building next but bookings will be honoured limiting any major change.