College in talks over town hall
An historic Black Country college is in talks with council bosses to take over the running of an old town hall.
King Edward's College is bidding to run Stourbridge Town Hall and has held 'advanced talks' with Dudley Council.
The college, established was in Stourbridge in 1552, wants to use the site for community events and also for extra space for some of its activities.
College principal Remley Mann said: "This is good news for the town and good news for the college.
"Our plans are to preserve the current usage of the town hall providing an invaluable public building for the use of the community, as well as giving the college extra space for some of our activities.
"The college has played a key role in the community for over 500 years, so we are honoured to be guardians of this important building to secure its future as a focal point for the local community."
Under proposals, Dudley Council will make the hall, opened in 1887, available under community asset transfer powers - enabling councils to transfer council-owned buildings to not-for-profit entities.
Both parties are in talks and are ironing out the main details of the agreement.
If a deal is successful, it would become the latest initiate of its kind in the borough, after charity Dudley CVS took over the running of Brierley Hill Civic Hall.
The charity was given the green light in November to continue running the venue following a successful 18-month trial.
The deal meant Dudley Council will save £100,000 a year on running costs. Brierley Hill Civic Hall was a thriving venue from the 60s to 80s but become underused. However it has now been given a new lease of life.
Welcoming the new proposals for Stourbridge, Wollaston and Stourbridge Town councillor Nicholas Barlow said: "I think it is a good move for the community.
"King Edward's has been here for a considerable amount of time and has strong links with Stourbridge.
"They have put forward some good ideas to keep the town hall alive and moving forward. The town hall is an extremely popular venue."
King Edward's, which is rated Good by Ofsted, plans to invest in the building for the future to develop the town hall as a community space as well as a place for learning activities.
Councillor Ian Kettle, cabinet member for regeneration, said: “As part of our commitment to deliver council services more efficiently and breathe new life into our town centres, we are looking at alternative ways of running our town halls.
“Following the successful running of Brierley Hill Civic Hall by Dudley CVS we’re now also looking at the possibility of a community asset transfer of Stourbridge Town Hall to King Edward VI College.
“Stourbridge Town Hall is already a successful and popular venue and we believe, under the management of the college, it will continue to be enjoyed by performers and audiences for generations to come.
“We will keep current users informed of developments, but want to assure everyone, if the transfer takes place, it will ensure this valued community asset remains an important venue in Stourbridge for the wider community.”
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