Cornbow Hall offered reprieve by Dudley Council

Council bosses have conceded that they got 'the feeling of the local community wrong' when they announced the potential sale of Halesowen's Cornbow Hall.

Speaking on Black Country Radio, leader of Dudley Council Patrick Harley reassured local residents that a caveat was included with the sale of the town centre venue. It would mean that any buyer would need to commit to operate the Cornbow Hall in much the same way as it is currently. Cllr Harley said:

"The Cornbow Hall hasn't been well used for several years now and unless it is used more by people who say they want to save it, then what do we do with it?

"Negotiations are ongoing with prospective buyers and there will be a clause saying we would like that hall to still be available for public use and, if it's not, then any negotiations will be stalled or stopped. It must still be available for local people to hire and if it's not then we'll simply remove it from sale."

The hall hit headlines earlier this week when it emerged that it made a £100,000 deficit every year. However, local residents took to social media in support of the hall claiming that it's tired decor and lower usage levels stemmed from a lack of investment from the council, both financial and in terms of commercial bookings.

Both Stourbridge and Dudley Town Hall's see a regular roster of concerts and big name comedians, whereas the Cornbow Hall appears to derive its income from events like amateur dramatics and collectors fairs. 

Councillor Simon Phipps, cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise, clarified his stance on Twitter, saying that whilst Dudley Council owned the land the hall stands on, the facility itself is owned by a third party and leased back to the council. He added:

"I'm not afraid to acknowledge that I got the feeling that local people would have towards the Cornbow Hall wrong. That's why negotiations over its sale will be ended unless the prospective buyer agrees to ensure that the Hall remains open for public use.

"Very few people of my generation will have ever used the Cornbow Hall which is not a good sign. It hasn't adapted to the times and unless it does so now, its future will be limited which is why I'm asking everyone to make use of it.

"I'll be asking Dudley Council's commercial team to review its operations and see how we can promote it better and  get more performances in the building which will help increase income and make the building more viable.

"On this occasion, numbers and figures pointed towards a sale being the best option however clearly not all other options have been exhausted and the feeling in the community shows that there is a passion for the building and its history. I hope we can really try and maximise the use of the Cornbow Hall."


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