King’s Lynn venue ‘receives £100k tax subsidy’, meeting told

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Taxpayer subsidy of the St George’s Guildhall in the heart of Lynn is not sustainable, councillors have been warned.

The historic King Street venue, which has been closed for more than a year, is already the subject of a £2.2 million renovation bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

And officials are currently preparing a further funding application to the Arts Council.

But, when questioned on the issue at Thursday’s full council meeting, West Norfolk Council deputy leader Elizabeth Nockolds suggested the days of ratepayers helping the venue financially were numbered.

She said the bid would enable a full business plan for the venue to be developed.

She added: “At the moment, the borough council taxpayer subsidises the Guildhall by more than £100,000 a year. This will have to change and we have to take that into consideration.

“Whether you attend or have never entered the building, we’re all paying for it.”

Mrs Nockolds said the council had assured local arts groups that the hall would still be able to accommodate audiences of up to 300 people for shows, as it currently does.

Concerns had previously been raised over the intention to make it a partially flat floor venue, to enable more events, including conferences and potentially weddings, to take place there.

And further talks were scheduled to take place yesterday, ahead of the submission of the Arts Council bid.

But Labour’s Andy Tyler said that, while he supported the bid, he was also worried that the revamped venue may be out of the price range of many of the organisations who had previously used it.

He said: “It’s great having them but it’s a shame that what’s on offer isn’t always affordable to them.”

Mrs Nockolds said she understood the concern, but stressed no agreement had yet been reached on future hire costs.