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Jobs are safe, vows Guild Hall buyer

Plans: Simon Rigby and, below, his architects drawings of the Guild Hall

Plans: Simon Rigby and, below, his architects drawings of the Guild Hall

Staff at Preston Guild Hall have been assured their jobs are safe if a planned sale of the building to a millionaire businessman goes ahead.

The Guild Hall and Charter Theatre complex is set to be sold to Lancashire-based Simon Rigby for a “nominal” sum.

Today Mr Rigby said around 20 workers would be transferred to his company under Transfer of Undertakings regulations (TUPE).

“All staff will be transferred to us,” said Mr Rigby. “We are safeguarding employment – and we want to build on that and get more shops and more buzz about the place.”

Preston Council’s Cabinet will meet on Friday to rubber-stamp the deal.

If it goes ahead, the sale of the loss-making complex is expected to be completed in October.

But Mr Rigby said if approved, he would be working together with Preston Council on bookings and other decisions from next week.

Blackpool-based Mr Rigby, who runs a range of businesses and The Villa at Wrea Green, has vowed to restore the loss-making building to its former glory – and beyond – with an entertainments tie-up with the Lowry at Salford .

He has promised to spend an immediate £1 million on the complex, which he says “oozes with potential”.

Mr Rigby said: “The staff at the Guild Hall are good at putting on events – we are good at catering for events. We will be working very closely with Preston City Council.”

A new Italian restaurant, banqueting and conference facilities, a coffee shop and a hub for new start-up businesses are all part the proposals.

Mr Rigby said the Guild Hall would be an ideal venue for medium-sized concerts and events. It is estimated the sale of the complex would save the council up to £1 million a year in running costs alone.

 

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