Preston Weekender: is it still on or has it been cancelled over the Guild Hall's closure?
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As the Lancashire Post revealed last month, the Preston Weekender was shifted from its planned summer, open-air stage on the Flag Market to a winter date at the hall - the attraction's first entertainment event in more than four years.
At the time, the Weekender's organisers, Preston Business Improvement District (BID), said that the last-minute change of plan - made little more than a week before the originally scheduled dates of 11th-13th August - had been “a tough decision”. However, they promised that staging the event indoors would be “a better experience for everyone”.
Now, the organisation is thanking people for their patience once again after acknowledging that a final decision on whether the rearranged series of shows goes ahead on 18th and 19th November cannot be made until a specialist survey ordered by Preston City Council has been carried out.
However, the authority has warned that it may not be prioritised by the experts who undertake such work - because they will be working at full capacity in schools and other public buildings where the material dubbed “crumbly concrete", or RAAC, has been found.
The Weekender is due to feature huge 1990s and 2000s dance acts, like N-Trance and Alex Party, at its Ministry of Sound Club Classics event on the Saturday evening, before bands including Space and Buzzcocks lead a line-up of artists performing the following afternoon as part of the ‘Sunday Showdown’.
The rescheduled gigs were set to coincide with the weekend of the Christmas light switch-on in Preston city centre - with artists originally booked for the ‘Family Fiesta’ event as part of the August Weekender making an appearance at the festive celebrations instead.
Responding to the news about the condition of the Guild Hall, Preston BID manager Mark Whittle told the LDRS: “It is believed that RAAC [reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete] is present in the roof panels of the Grand Hall and Charter Theatre within the Guild Hall.
“Following national guidance and pending a thorough investigation by specialist structural engineers, Preston City Council have communicated that both [the Grand Hall and Charter Theatre] will remain closed and secured.
“We are awaiting further information from [the council] and their structural investigations consultants before taking a decision on the future of the event.
“We appreciate people’s patience and will update ticket-holders as soon as possible.
“Obviously, this is news nobody wanted, but the safety and security of patrons is paramount, “ Mr. Whittle added.