Stafford's Shire Hall will close indefinitely – with no plans for its future despite petition pleas

Stafford's treasured Shire Hall will be closed and mothballed – with no plans for its future.

Stafford's Shire Hall will close indefinitely – with no plans for its future despite petition pleas

Staffordshire County Council owns the Grade II-listed building but said the annual cost of £250,000 to keep it open is too expensive.

And paying experts to help decide how to use it in the future could top £245,000.

The Shire Hall's art gallery will be shut down and the authority's arts services will all be shifted out by August in an effort to save £333,000 over three years in a decision rubber-stamped yesterday, three years after it was first mooted.

More than 3,000 people signed a petition opposing the arts services move, handed to councillors last December.

Deputy leader Councillor Ian Parry told a cabinet meeting: "If there was ever any plan which was going to cause any detriment to that building or a proposal to sell it off or do something that would harm it in any way I would guarantee that my name would be at the top of that petition or that my banner would be at the front of that march."

The town's library was moved out of the building to Staffordshire Place in 2015.

The University of Wolverhampton and council-run multi-sensory room are both set to leave the Shire Hall and move to Staffordshire Place in the summer.

Councillor Parry said: "We've got a building which isn't fit for the purpose for which it's being used."

The Shire Hall was built as a courthouse between 1795 and 1798 and extended in 1854. It was Grade II* listed in 1971. The council renovated it with English Heritage funding in 1993.

Ken Tillett, whose Creative Arts Theatre group has used the Shire Hall's courtroom for performances for the last three years, said: "I think it's disgusting. I know the council has got to make savings but they're just making a complete mess of it instead of looking at what's in front of them. I think it's sacrilege to close it."

The equivalent of 5.75 full-time staff will be made redundant.

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