BREAKING: Despite public support for our campaign to Save Our Civic Venues, Bury Labour have today announced their plan to close the Elizabeth Suite and the Longfield Suite. We are pleased that Ramsbottom Civic Hall is being saved, but this isn't enough. A Conservative administration in May would keep all three venues open.
Bury's Labour Council are consulting to close three of Bury's civic venues in the same year we've been made Greater Manchester's inaugural Town of Culture. We want to stop it.
The Elizabethan Suite, the Longfield Suite, and Ramsbottom Civic Hall are an important part of our communities. For years they have been used for weddings, entertainment, and local groups, who rely on these venues as a central meeting point at the heart of their communities. They have hosted events and welcomed people from across Bury, Greater Manchester, and people from across the country. They are a significant part of our town and the Bury Conservative Group believes that they should remain part of our town, especially in the year when Bury is Greater Manchester's inaugural Town of Culture.
We have seen the importance of our civic venues through Bury Council's fantastic efforts to use them as vaccination centres, with Ramsbottom Civic Hall becoming available as a vaccination site just last week. We need to retain these venues as community hubs and expand their usage from one-off events to all-year-round use at the heart of our community. This will mean ensuring that they have the investment necessary from Bury Council for them to make a positive return on public investment. By having the right plan in place, we can provide a fantastic destination for events and activities in our borough whilst simultaneously supporting the Council's finances to allow investment in other areas.
This short-term approach to Bury's cultural heritage has been tried before. This is the same Bury Labour Party that authorised the sale of LS Lowry's "A Riverbank" in order to plug holes in public finances in 2007, a decision grossly offensive to both the public and the public purse. This consultation to shutter civic venues is expected to save the council £250,000 a year, whereas Bury Labour's newly-expanded Cabinet now costs taxpayers over £120,000 a year. As the Guardian said back in 2006: "wouldn't they be better auctioning off a councillor or two?"
We want these venues to stay part of our community and we are actively exploring proposals for how this can be achieved. We do not believe that the closures that Bury's Labour Council are proposing are necessary, and we shall detail our plans in due course. This consultation lasts for 8 weeks, so the clock is ticking: we have just 8 weeks to Save our Civic Venues.
Cllr. Nick Jones, Leader of Bury Conservative Group said:
For years Bury Council have underinvested in our Civic Venues. It wasn’t that long ago that Radcliffe Civic Hall was demolished. The Conservative want to see our Civic Venues saved and for the Council to invest in these vital community buildings. Bury Council launched a consultation on Thursday 21st January with a proposed option to permanently close the Elizabethan Suite, Longfield Suite and Ramsbottom Civic Hall. They have launched an eight week consultation asking residents how often and how they use the venues. It is important that all residents across our town make it clear to the council that we do not want these civic venues being closed permanently.
The Labour Party come out time and time again with outrageous plans that will impact the lives of our residents for generations to come, from concreting over our green belt to spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on executive salaries instead of improving our public facilities. This proposal to shutter community hubs is yet another example of Labour's inability to run a council effectively. With libraries being shuttered, Radcliffe Civic Hall being torn down, and Bury Labour's Cabinet being increased at the cost of the taxpayer instead, I am starting to wonder where this Cabinet's priorities really lie.
You can give feedback to the consultation here, and back our campaign to Save our Civic Venues by filling out the survey below.