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Update given in search for new Preston Guild Hall operator

Posted on - 15th July, 2019 - 4:27pm | Author - | Posted in - Business, Politics, Preston City Centre, Preston Council, Preston News
Preston Guild Hall in Lancaster Road Pic: Tony Worrall
Preston Guild Hall in Lancaster Road Pic: Tony Worrall

The search for a new operator to take on Preston Guild Hall has moved to its next stage.

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Preston City Council set a deadline of 12noon on Monday (15 July) for proposals from organisations wanting to take on the venue.

A spokeswoman for the city council confirmed the deadline had now passed and expressions for taking on the lease of the Guild Hall, Charter Theatre, offices and ground floor shops had been received.

Leader of the city council councillor Matthew Brown told Blog Preston: “We are pleased with the level of interest we have had in the future of Preston Guild Hall, but have embarked on this process with realistic expectations on the number of credible organisations in the position to submit a proposal.

“Now that the deadline for proposals has passed, we will undertake an extensive evaluation process before determining what recommendation will be made to council in due course.”

The city council says it is considering offering some sort of subsidy in the deal for the Guild Hall – covering some of the maintenance costs. And a shorter lease of 30 years is expected to be offered.

This is a departure from the deal done with Simon Rigby which saw the lease for the venue transferred for £1, a 999-year lease and no subsidy offered in the deal in 2014 which saw him take on the Guild Hall from the city council.

Mr Rigby placed the venue into administration into June this year and the venue was reclaimed by the city council under forfeiture.

A legal battle with Simon Rigby is expected as the council revealed what they claim is a six-figure sum of business rates owing.

Mr Rigby says he is still taking legal advice about his position on the venue.

Read more: A timeline of events from the Guild Hall’s rebirth to implosion

The main hall, which a capacity of 2,750, and the Charter Theatre, both remained closed to the public. The overall Guild Hall complex and arcade, including many businesses, are still open and trading.

Any decision on a new operator is expected to be taken by a meeting of the full council.

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