Hippodrome campaigners accuse council of ‘game-playing’ over dream

An artists impression of a refurbished Dudley Hippodrome

Campaigners trying to revitalise Dudley Hippodrome fear the council is ‘playing a game’ in talks over the lease.

Steve Daniels, a member of the 'Black Country Hippodrome', a company formed to manage the revival of the venue, said he was ‘disappointed’ with Dudley Council. The group claims they were rushed into submitting a report on funding opportunities after they requested the five-year lease be extended.

Black Country Hippodrome was handed the keys to the building, along with a five-year lease, and requirements from council chiefs to prove their bid to salvage the building was realistic. However the group is finding it difficult to secure financial aid as funding providers are hesitant to hand out cash with such a short commitment to the building in place. 

Dudley Council has said it will consider a request to extend the lease by 20 years, but has first asked for a report on the progress in the initial twelve months. However, Mr Daniels believed they should have been given longer as they were handed the keys last December.

The disagreement threatens to create fresh tension over the building, which the council had wanted to knock down prior to the rescue bid. Bosses have always maintained plans to demolish it and create an open public area remain in the background in the event of the revamp falling through. Mr Daniels said:

“I am worried about what their motives are. Are they playing a game by which they say they are giving us a chance but really they are not?

“We are working hard to make it happen but obstacles come up daily. If we have our way it will happen but if people have got ulterior motives it won’t happen.”

Only minor works have been carried out on the Castle Hill venue since campaigners were handed the keys last year with fears of asbestos contamination inside needing to be resolved before more serious renovations can get underway. But campaigners fear they're stuck in a catch 22 situation, where the council won't extend the lease without seeing an update of proceedings, but funds can't be put in place until the lease extension comes through.

Black Country Hippodrome needs around to raise £5 million in order to make the dream a reality - something which has divided opinion across the borough. One local resident, who didn't want to be named, said:

"I love the idea of the Hippodrome reopening and the though of professional theatre being brought back to the area is amazing. However what would be terrible is for the venue to be saved for no obvious reason.

"From the outside, it's not a particularly attractive building - it's the heritage of the place that shines through. But it needs to be re-opened as a theatre, not just a make-shift community centre to get one over on the council."

Councillor Ian Kettle, cabinet member for regeneration at Dudley Council, said:

“The terms of the lease, which included an August review date were agreed by members of Black Country Hippodrome Ltd and Dudley Council back in December 2016.

“It’s important that we stick to these agreed terms in order to objectively assess whether those milestones have been achieved.”

Recently Played


  • Available on the App Store
  • Available on Google Play

Useful Links


Travel News

How To Listen

Latest Podcasts

92.2 / 102.5 FM
'Play Black Country Radio'