WITH the city hall remaining temporarily closed for the foreseeable future, councillors have put forward their support for the arts venue and its reopening, when it is safe and viable to do so.
Heard during a Salisbury Area Board meeting on December 3, it was also approved that Wiltshire Council, who own and manage the building in Malthouse Lane, would be requested to conduct community engagement and consultation through the board of Salisbury representatives, should the usage or outcomes change.
Councillor Ricky Rogers put the motion forward as “people love the city hall”.
He said: “For all its outdatedness, [the city hall is] a venue which the public holds dear to its heart in Salisbury and I want us, Salisbury Area Board, through Wiltshire Council, to be the ones that take the conversation as to when it can reopen, if it can reopen [and if it is] going to change in any way, to the public of Salisbury.
“[This] is an issue which I think is so important to the people of Salisbury, that we’ve got to be informed ourselves and inform the public so they feel views are being listened to.”
This was wholly supported by councillors, with Cllr John Walsh adding there was an “emotional” element to preserving the city hall, as the building also acted as a memorial to those who died in the Second World War.
The continuation of the closure was announced in October, and Wiltshire Council had deemed it “a sensible option” to suspend the current programme of events, scheduled to begin again next year, with the Covid-19 pandemic putting increased financial pressures on the council.
It added it will look to reopen the venue when the industry “is on a surer footing”.
Cllr Matthew Dean said that when he had previously spoken to Wiltshire Council leader Philip Whitehead, when the entertainment venue was first closed, he had said “there are no plans to change the management or the opening or the scope of city hall activities”.
Cllr Dean added: “Once the coronavirus pandemic is behind us, and hopefully that will be in the spring, the impression [Cllr Whitehead] gave me was [the city hall] would be [preparing] for a new series of events with the existing management.”
Cllr Brian Dalton however raised the concern surrounding staff, following speculation across the city that all employees had been made redundant.
He said: “I understand the council has made all the staff redundant so even if it opened tomorrow, it’s going to take several months to get back to where we were in the first place.”
The authority added it could not confirm staffing details but it was working through the redundancy process for some members, or for those who wish to be redeployed, trying to find them a suitable position where possible.