Guild Hall ‘examined’ as more cuts planned

Peter Rankin
Peter Rankin
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The Guild Hall is next on the hit-list of Preston’s councillors as they seek to slash budgets further.

Town Hall bosses have admitted they will look at “a number of options” for the venue at the start of next year after admitting it is losing cash.

The council said its buildings, which include the bus station earmarked for demolition, historic markets and car parks, operate “at a loss” and needed reviewing.

Last week, the Evening Post revealed the council’s plans to demolish the bus station sparking a wave of objections and said it would unveil proposals for the revamp of the markets in January.

Of the Guild Hall, council leader Peter Rankin said: “That is a matter for another day, but it is a building which will have to be examined very closely.

“We will be looking at a number of options in the New Year.”

Chief executive Lorraine Norris said the authority was “looking at the business case” for each of its buildings and “deciding the future for them.”

She said: “The Guild Hall is the next one we will look at.”

Coun Rankin said further cuts in the amount the Labour-led council receives from central Government, expected to be announced later this month, meant it had to “salami slice” its budgets.

It has claimed the demolition of the bus station will save it nearly £300,000-a-year with Lancashire County Council, which runs buses in the county, building a new terminal.

Coun Rankin said: “We have been salami slicing our budgets for quite a long time now and there comes a time when you cannot slice any longer.

“There simply is nothing left to slice.

“The man in charge of local government in this country (Conservative Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles) tells us local councils are doing things they shouldn’t be doing any longer – that is the kind of support we get.”

The proposals to demolish the city’s bus station and refurbish its markets are expected to be discussed when the full council meets for its monthly meeting on Thursday.

A decision will be taken by the council’s cabinet which meets on Monday, December 17 to decide upon whether to press ahead with the bus station demolition and refurbishment of the markets.