Sandwell Council has refused to publish a report commissioned to look into the future of The Public, as chiefs admitted a sixth form college was not among the options it put forward.
The authority spent £39,000 asking property experts Jones Lang LaSalle to investigate what they could do with the West Bromwich gallery last year.
As part of the review the firm was asked to look at potential uses for the £72 million building and its capacity, as well as undertake a structural assessment and look into how the building could be disposed of.
At the time the exercise was launched the council’s improvement chief Councillor Mahboob Hussain said the consultants would be looking at options for the building for when Arts Council funding ended in 2015.
A request was made to the council for the report to be made available under the Freedom of Information Act, but the authority said it would not be released as it ‘may prejudice the council’s commercial interests’.
It comes after it was revealed the council was set to sign a deal with Sandwell College to transform the building into a sixth-form college. The deal – under which Sandwell College and the council enter into a 25-year partnership – is due to be put to the borough council’s ruling cabinet on October 16.
Council leader Councillor Darren Cooper said he was not blocking the report’s publication as the authority had ‘nothing to hide’. After questions via Twitter however, he did reveal that the college option was not among those put forward.