THE future of Crosby Civic Hall is once again in doubt – with councillors set to recommend plans to approve handing over the running of the popular arts venue to a community organisation.
Sefton Council has put forward a huge list of potential savings as it attempts to balance a £44m budget deficit.
The proposed cuts – which have been outlined in a 108-page “transformation programme” document – include moves to transfer “the external management arrangements for Crosby Civic Hall with the option of closure if unsuccessful”.
Under the pilot scheme, which will save the council £46,000, the Crosby Road North venue will be run by a local community group, with councillors monitoring the success of the arrangement.
No permanent council staff will be employed, with the running of the building being taken over by a community group expected to be made up of members of Crosby’s Town Team.
Team member Ian Hamilton Fazey said: “The Civic Hall is a very important asset to Crosby and it would be very sad if we lost it. We are having preliminary discussions about forming a group to run the Hall and we will be meeting all those groups who use the venue.”
If the scheme proves workable, the council is willing to look at striking a longer-term deal, but, if it proves unsuccessful, officers have recommended that the building be closed.
In February of this year, the Civic Hall was granted a reprieve following a decision to keep it open after the council leader, Cllr Peter Dowd, asked for the savings to be removed from the budget.
A petition organised by Waterloo and Crosby Theatre Company was signed by 281 people against the council’s proposals to pull out of the running the hall.
Members of the company, which has staged the annual pantomime at the Civic Hall for 30 years, have said the potential closure of the venue will be a massive loss to the community.
Artistic director Pam Foy said: “We have dates booked for June, nobody has told us anything official and as a major stakeholder in the venue this really is not good enough.
“What about the little people?”