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Saturday, 25 October 2014

Father and son head Whitehaven Civic Hall rescue bid

A rescue plan has been launched for Whitehaven Civic Hall.

Maudling photo
Danny Maudling and dad Charles

Father and son Charles and Danny Maudling – along with Danny’s colleagues in local music promoters The Mighty Boof – are in talks to take over the running of the under threat facility when Copeland Council funding ends.

The council confirmed that it will withdraw funding to North Country Leisure (NCL), the managers of the Civic, and the venue will close in November if no other financial arrangements are made.

“Among all the cuts, the Civic Hall is the priority as it would be a tragedy if it were to close; it’s the hub of the town,” said Mr Maudling senior. “We honestly believe we can run it – by working with Copeland Council, NCL and by assembling a team of volunteers to keep it open and make it profitable.”

NCL says for the Civic to remain open without council subsidy, a total of £171,000 needs to be found each year. It is currently looking at ways this could be achieved, including the possibility of having a cinema in the Dunboyne Hall, and working with local user groups, including the Maudlings. In the meantime, opening hours have been reduced – and it is now shut altogether at weekends – although the building is open outside of these new hours for bookings and events.

Copeland Council has been forced to slash services after having a third of its budget cut by the Government. It was the eighth-worst-hit council in the country and must save around £3 million by 2015.

“We have seen what can be achieved at Rosehill Theatre by having a group of dedicated volunteers running a venue successfully,” added Mr Maudling.

“There’s a great deal can by done with the Civic, such as weddings, Christmas parties as well as the live music events that The Boof – Danny, David Eldon, Josh Shepherd and others – promote so well. And there are other avenues of revenue that can be explored.

The next step, he says, is to arrange a meeting of the Civic’s users to explore how they use the venue and how they would prepare to be involved in the future.

“We’ll then take the figures to Copeland and see where we go from there. I would hope that meeting can take place by the end of March.”

Meanwhile, a Save The Civic all-day music event, starring Jon Windle, Chris Helme, Tom Hingley and the best of the local music scene is held in the venue on Good Friday (March 29).

Mr Maudling asks any parties interested in volunteering at the Civic or attending the users’ meeting to contact him at Threads, King Street, on 01946 690008. Copeland Council will also cut funding to two other NCL-managed facilities – Copeland Pool and Whitehaven Sports Centre. These facilities will remain open, NCL has confirmed, but prices will go up by an average of five per cent from April 1. The steam room at the Sports Centre will close, however.

Full details of prices and opening hours for all facilities are available at www.northcountryleisure.org.uk/copeland.

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