Preston Guild Hall could close next year warning

Preston Guild Hall Preston Guild Hall opened in 1972

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Preston City Council could end its annual £1m subsidy to Preston Guild Hall, throwing its future into doubt.

The council said the move was part of a package to save £3.6m over the next three years. It also proposes cutting 80 jobs and raising council tax by 2%.

Martyn Rawlinson, cabinet member for resources, said the authority could not continue paying the subsidy but it would be difficult to find a new owner.

A public consultation is taking place ahead of a meeting on 27 February.

Mr Rawlinson said the Guild Hall was very costly to run and the council faced a dilemma.

He said: "There are very few people out there, if any, who would want to take it on without a subsidy and that doesn't really meet our budget needs.

"We've got a real problem on our hands, we have to reduce the budget thanks to government cuts but we don't want to lose Preston's arts and culture hub."

Demolition option

He said closing the hall was a possibility when the subsidy ends on the 31 March 2015 but the council would look at all other options.

He said mothballing the hall would still cost the council £500,000 a year and would be a disaster for Preston.

Mr Rawlinson said demolition was also an option.

The Guild Hall opened in 1972 and, during the 1970s and 1980s, some of the biggest names in rock, including Led Zeppelin, David Bowie and Queen, played its Grand Hall, which was once the regular host of the UK Snooker Championships.

But a 2,000 capacity is now considered too small for many major bands and too big for smaller acts.

Council leader Peter Rankin said the council had done everything possible to protect services but the scale of the cuts it was facing meant all council services were going to be affected.

He added: "All I can say to the public and to the people losing their jobs is, if the money isn't there, the money isn't there."

Street cleaning, parks, pest control, and community support officers will be cut back during the next year, with cuts made across every service over the following two years.

Mr Rankin also said job cuts in 2017/18 could see compulsory redundancies.

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