Lib Dem's describe Hippodrome u-turn as a 'disgrace to the Black Country'

Dudley Liberal Democrats have launched a blistering attack on the Conservative party for their "absolute failure of leadership" following the announcement that they plan to press ahead with the demolition of Dudley Hippodrome.

They say that campaigners have been left 'devastated' by the council's decision to demolish the theatre, which has sat abandoned since 2009.

Community Groups and charities have previously urged the council not to press ahead with their plans, as demolition would mean the loss of a "cultural venue with national importance" as well as have a significant impact on the environment.

Over the last few years, the Save the Hippodrome Group has grown to have a membership of thousands of supporters and raised thousands of pounds, but despite this, the local Liberal Democrat group say they feel that the leader of the council has largely ignored their pleas. Local Liberal Democrat Spokesperson, Ryan Priest said:

"This announcement comes just weeks after the leader of the council, Patrick Harley agreed with the group that the council would work with them and the Theatre's Trust to commission a viability study, to assess whether a refurbished theatre could successfully reopen.

"To tear down such a significant icon of our history, and to ignore the calls for its restoration is an absolute failure of leadership. Dudley Hippodrome is a local landmark, an important part of Black Country history, and if reopened and restored to its former glory could have a huge impact on the local area.

"Cllr Harley's u-turn on the viability study is a two-faced betrayal. I'm sure the leader's city-bid and redevelopment plans may shaw up his chance of an honours nomination, but they do nothing for the people he is elected to serve.

"Maybe it's time the Tories put local communities first for once. They want to make a bid for city status, but what kind of a city doesn't have a theatre?"

Dudley Council announced last week that plans have been formally submitted for the demolition of the former Hippodrome building to make way for an exciting £25 million “university park” in the heart of the town. Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council, said:

"This is a significant phase of our £1 billion regeneration plans and builds on the massive strides we have been able to make with Metro, Very Light Rail and the demolition of Cavendish House in the last couple of years.

"I can completely understand local campaigners wanting to save the former Hippodrome building, and I am encouraged to see community groups working so passionately to improve the town. But we simply cannot allow this discussion to continue for another decade after exhausting every opportunity to find an enormous amount of funding.

"We have received several business cases over the years from successive campaign groups, and have handed over the keys to the building.
But no one has been able make any significant headway in reviving a theatre which has not put on a show in more than 60 years.

"I have met with the campaigners and agreed to work with them on the ongoing regeneration proposals and look for ways to improve the cultural offer and night-time economy of Dudley."


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