Preston Guild Hall officially served with a statutory demand for an alleged £70,000 debt

The company that runs Preston Guild Hall could face a winding up order unless it pays a debt owed to a theatre company.

By Stef Hall
Thursday, 4th April 2019, 2:38 pm
Updated Friday, 5th April 2019, 11:19 am
Preston Guild Hall
Preston Guild Hall

Bill Kenwright’s production company BKL Ltd, which staged Blood Brothers at the venue last September, served a statutory demand on March 19, over an alleged debt of nearly £70,000 ticket sales from the show, following months of wrangling.

The theatre company went public with the issue in January, claiming the final settlement had been due in October, but that the Guild Hall had subsequently missed several self-imposed payment deadlines.

Failure to comply with the demand notice means could face a winding-up petition - a court order that forces an insolvent company into compulsory liquidation in order to repay creditors.

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The theatre was bought from Preston Council in 2014 by businessman Simon Rigby, who today insisted the matter would be resolved.

The Rigby Organisation is the overarching company that controls Mr Rigby’s businesses, which span the leisure, property, energy and care sectors, but in 2016 the Guild Hall was split off and listed as a limited company in its own right.

BKL claims Preston Guild Hall Ltd firm is £3m in debt - but Mr Rigby says Preston Guild Hall Ltd firm owes him the money as its only secured creditor.

He said: "We are in discussions with BKL about this matter, a legal process has been started but we are expecting to settle matters with him before the deadline.

"It will be resolved. My legal department is dealing with it. We've made them an offer and they are considering it."

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Preston Guild Hall in '£70k unpaid bill' dispute

BKL’s executive director Steve Potts told the Post: " We have a very good relationship with most theatres.

"We take a view in these situations that as a company our primary objective is investing in talent, so we always make sure the whole creative team are paid in good time. We've paid everybody and we are now carrying the out-of-pocket burden because of the refusal or inability to pay.

"I am very disappointed that, despite best and repeated efforts over many months, theatre owner Simon Rigby has failed to pay BKL what it is due, contrary to the contract and to subsequent promises made by Tom Flack, chief financial officer of The Rigby Organisation.

"If PGHL is trading whilst insolvent, it risks leaving producers, authors, actors, musicians, stage crew and the public considerably out of pocket.

"I hope for all concerned that Rigby and Flack take stock of this serious situation, disclose what’s going on, and face up to their responsibilities.

"If they don't pay, we will be in a position where we can go ahead with a wind up order - but we will not make a decision like that until the time is up.

"It's a very rare situation to be in. Most theatres are run by really good teams who know the business."

Mr Potts added he was aware of other promoters and producers who had raised concerns about the hall management.