Preston Guild Hall staff laid off as owner closes venue

Preston Guild Hall Image copyright Google
Image caption Preston Guild Hall opened in 1972 and once hosted the UK snooker championships

Staff at Preston Guild Hall have been laid off and shows cancelled after the owner failed to reach an agreement with a management company to run the venue.

Simon Rigby said the hall would close after he was forced to "review the viability" of the business, adding that he wanted to treat creditors fairly.

In 2014, he bought it from Preston City Council and pledged to invest £1m.

He said negotiations with management firm VMS Live had overrun due to the death of its managing director.

The venue opened in 1972 and has hosted star turns such as David Bowie and Queen, as well as once being the regular home of the UK Snooker Championships.

The move will see both the 2,000-capacity Great Hall and the 716-seat Charter Theatre closed indefinitely, but businesses on the venue's ground floor will not be affected.

'Back to square one'

Mr Rigby did not confirm the number of staff that have lost their jobs, but said ticketholders for the cancelled shows would be refunded.

He said he remained hopeful Preston Guild Hall Ltd would sign a long-term contract with VMS Live, which would lead it back to "its rightful position as the leading regional live entertainment venue".

"Due to a tragic accident, we've been knocked back to square one [and] we're all trying to find our feet," he said.

"One delay has led to another and we just can't get any certainty."

VMS Live managing director Steve Forster died in April after being injured in a road crash in March.

The firm, whose music venue clients include Manchester Academy, The Foundry in Sheffield and Hull's The Welly has been contacted for a comment.

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