Mar 14 2013 by Rob Pattinson, Ormskirk Advertiser
THREE community groups are in talks with the council over taking over the running of Ormskirk Civic Hall, it can be revealed.
All three groups are understood to be interesting in keeping the hall as a performance venue.
And West Lancs council is set to meet with each group next week to decide on its preferred partner.
One of the groups that wants to take on the venue is North West-based performing arts group Plastersine.
Mark McLaughlin, drama director for Plastersine, told the Advertiser about the “exciting” prospects in store if their bid was successful.
He said: “Should the council give us the opportunity to take on the civic hall, we intend to turn this building into a more modern and diverse venue, accessible to the whole community of Ormskirk and the surrounding areas.
“We have huge plans and ideas in place that we hope will make the civic [hall] the heart of Ormskirk.”
The council has not confirmed the names of the groups it is talking to.
The future of Ormskirk Civic Hall was cast into doubt last October when the council announced it would close in 2014 unless agreements could be made for user groups to run the venue. Ashurst Meeting Room and community centres at Tanhouse, Birch Green, Digmoor and Green Hill are also facing closure unless similar arrangements can be found. The moves were part of the council’s cost cutting measures to meet a £600,000 budget gap in its major service review last year.
Both the civic hall and Ashurst meeting room are being offered to groups to manage on a peppercorn rent for a minimum of 25 years. The groups would then be responsible for paying for repairs.
The council said it had received “very positive enquiries” for the civic hall and was now working with community organisations who have expressed an interest.
A spokesman said that as the council was working with groups with a view to move forward to a formal application it was no longer seeking any further interest at this stage. While it is understood their has been interest in Ashurst Meeting Room, the council will continue to receive expressions of interest until April 12.
Cllr David Sudworth, portfolio holder for leisure, said: “I am pleased that we are talking to groups that are interested in taking over the operation and full management of Ormskirk Civic Hall. I hope more organisations will come forward to talk to us about taking the same role at Ashurst Meeting Room.”
Liz Wainwright, of Ormskirk Pleasure Folk, said: “Whether we will still be able to use it we don’t know. But the fact all parties want to keep it as an arts venue is the most important thing.”
Any community groups interested in managing Ashurst Meeting Room can contact Paula Campbell on 01695 585144 or email at Paula.Campbell@westlancs.gov.uk