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Gloucestershire Business News

Contracts due to be exchanged on iconic Stroud building

One of Stroud's most iconic and best-loved buildings is due to finally change hands - for the headline figure of £1.

It will not be news to residents of the market town who keep their ears to the ground that ownership of the Subscription Rooms is expected to change.

Neither will the real cost to the public purse be lost on those with a grasp of simple mathematics, with the figure closing in on half a million pounds, and that is not counting the potential job losses.

After months attempting to sell the town centre entertainment venue opinion was it should be kept in public hands, and then began the process of moving it from district council to town council ownership.

News is that change of ownership should happen by March 28, subject to approval by the district council's strategy and resources committee on Thursday, January 17.

A newly formed Stroud Subscription Rooms Trust will then work with the town council to run the venue, starting from April 1.

The business and remaining staff will be transferred direct to the new trust as well as fixtures and fittings valued at around £20,000.

While all focus has been on retaining public ownership and the £1 price tag, the deal is not without significant costs - amounting to at least £435,000 of public money.

As part of the transfer agreement, the district will pay up to £125,000 for repairs to the roof of the 185-year-old building and a one-off grant of £230,000 to the Trust on completion of the transfer.

The Town Council doesn't get off scot-free either. It has had to earmark £83,000 for costs around the transfer.

Regulations around running a trust and a lack of finances generally means the small print to the deal also includes the closure of the Tourist Information Centre within the Subscription Rooms.

The cuts would amount to a cost saving in the region of £81,000 for the district council.

Stroud Town mayor Kevin Cranston said: "The Town Council welcomes this deal which is the result of a lot of hard work by officers of both councils and the willing volunteers of the Trust.

"It is a great deal for everyone. The Subs stays in public ownership, SDC avoids the ongoing costs of running the building, the Subs staff have secure jobs and there is an imaginative refurbishment planned with an exciting programme of events with something for everyone in prospect."

Hugh Phillimore and Alex Cowan, joint chairman of the trust, said: "The Subs enters an exciting new era and there is much to be done to ensure this venue is viable and remains at the heart of the community. The trust cannot do this without community support and we look forward to the future."

Read more: Axe hangs over jobs as tourist information centre faces closure 

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