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Gloucestershire Business News

Committee to consider future of Subscription Rooms

Local people can have their say on the future of Stroud's Subscription Rooms before it comes up for discussion by committee next month .

Funding costs for 183 year-old building rose to £415,000 last year, making it too costly for Stroud District Council to run. That's why the council asked for bids to take it over.

Cllr Steve Lydon, leader of Stroud District Council, said: "We understand the concern felt by the people of Stroud about the fate of the Subscription Rooms.

"In October 2016 all political parties at Stroud District Council agreed to a review of the Subscription Rooms as the council is no longer able to afford to continue the venue's yearly subsidy of hundreds of thousands of pounds of tax payers' money."

Bids came from two outside organisations and the council itself. Now a cross-party council task group is recommending that the Strategy and Resources Committee accept the bid from local energy provider, Ecotricity, to run the venue.

Ecotricity proposes to:

  • Purchase the freehold of the Subscription Rooms
  • Maintain public use of the venue for live entertainment and cultural/ community events, whilst taking all responsibility for operating and capital costs from the Council
  • Accommodate the Tourist Information Office
  • Operate the venue as a multi-use facility for the staff of Ecotricity Group

In its bid, Ecotricity states: "Under our proposal, the town would retain the Subscription Rooms for community use but lose its ongoing financial liability; we believe that taking the public purse out of the equation offers the most sustainable solution.

"A key element of our bid is to ensure that the Subscription Rooms continues as an important community facility for the benefit of Stroud. We believe that the best way to ensure this would be to remove the financial liability from the council, and our approach would achieve this and ensure the venue remained viable in the long term.

"We would not intend to make changes to the external appearance of the Subscription Rooms. Our wish is to preserve and protect its appearance and to help ensure its continuing existence as an important and accessible landmark venue within Stroud.

"From a company perspective, our vision for the Subscription Rooms is part of our broader vision for Ecotricity in Stroud. Our staff numbers locally exceed 700 and we have further plans for expansion by rebuilding the old tax office which could add a further 300 people. We are keen that Stroud town centre remains a hub for our people and the Subscription Rooms would provide a focal point where they can meet for breaks, lunch, larger meetings etc. We don't currently have any suitable space for this purpose and so it fulfils an important need for us."

No decision on the future of the Subscription Rooms has yet been taken.

Reports and recommendations are available at

https://www.stroud.gov.uk/subroomsreview

In addition there is a public consultation event at the Subscription Rooms on Saturday 18th November 9.30am to 1pm. Visitors will be able to leave comments about the report, and Council employees will be on hand to listen to views and answer questions.

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