Preston Guild Hall has been temporarily closed to the public.Advertisement
Simon Rigby has taken the decision to mothball the venue while negotiations with management company VMS Live continue.
Mr Rigby was locked in negotations with the firm to take on the running of the Guild Hall but these were delayed due to the death of VMS’s owner in a crash.
In a statement released by the Preston-based millionaire, Mr Rigby said they are focused on a long-term lease for the Guild Hall.
Blaming uncertainty around the date, as negotiations are three months behind schedule, and ‘some false social media stories’ Mr Rigby said he had taken professional advice to close the venue until VMS Live could take it on.
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He said: “Clearly a tragedy beyond anyone’s control has led to the delay in VMS Live taking Preston Guild Hall on to the next level.
“The suppliers (including promotors) have simply got tired of waiting for VMS Live to take up the reigns of the Guild Hall.
“Under this pressure and uncertainty I am legally obliged to review the viability of Preston Guild Hall Limited (the Operating Company) as a number of its creditors will not wait any longer and all creditors have to be treated fairly.”
Mr Rigby said any units on the ground floor of the Guild Hall are unaffected. This includes entertainment venue Level which is within the Guild Tower, attached to the Guild Hall.
Operations director of Guild Group Ltd Lisa Matthew said: “We hope to have minimum disruption to Preston Guild Hall’s operation during this transition.”
Mr Rigby confirmed to Blog Preston that all Guild Hall venue staff had been sent home during Thursday (30 May) and were to be paid up until the end of the month.
The venue has 20 full-time staff. He said he hoped their employment would be renewed if a new operator came forward.
There are 40 casual staff also affected but Mr Rigby says they have been offered roles within his wider Rigby group.
Review bar, which is on the ground floor of the Guild Hall facing into Lancaster Road, have moved to clarify they will remain open.
Head of social media at Besides Friends Group, which run the bar, Jay Lilley told Blog Preston: “We would like to make all of our customers aware that we will not be affected by this and will continue to be open as normal serving two-for-one cocktails every hour we’re open and including the new summer cocktail menu.”
Mr Rigby bought the Guild Hall from Preston City Council for £1 in summer 2014.
He set about redeveloping the venue but in the last nine months has been sub-letting most of the units in the building as he ‘moves back to being a landlord’.
Leader of Preston City Council councillor Matthew Brown said: “We are disappointed to hear this news, but hope that this temporary closure of Preston Guild Hall enables the transition to VMS Live’s management of the venue to take place smoothly.
“The transfer of Preston Guild Hall to Simon Rigby in 2014 was Preston City Council’s only viable option. This difficult decision was made due to significant operating costs in a climate of unprecedented budget cuts and austerity. This situation has not changed.
“Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of the late owner of VMS Live.”
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Mr Rigby said all shows in the next two weeks will not go ahead.
But he hopes shows booked further in advance will run. But those with tickets are advised to contact the venue.
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Any tickets for shows that do not now go ahead will be refunded. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org