Locals Rail Against Music Co-Op Eviction
19 October 2018, 06:21 | Updated: 19 October 2018, 06:38
Thousands have signed a petition to keep Lancaster's Musician's Co-Op in its home.
An eviction notice has been served.
The city council says the Lodge Street building is unsafe and needs urgent repair, and the six month notice is only "precautionary".
However, manager Ian Dicken said it came as a surprise: "This thing just came out of the blue, really, on a Friday afternoon - on the day of the Lancaster Music Festival, ironically enough."
He reckons there's a need for what they do in the area: "Very much so. I mean the music festival generates a lot of footfall for the city - over a million pounds worth last year. There's a big music scene in Lancaster and if you consider the size of the place we do particularly well, I think."
Ian added they've had a lot of support from the public: "That's been a really nice surprise. I'm quite overwhelmed, to be honest. Some of the letters and emails people have sent - it's really very touching."
The Conservatives claim the council's kicking people out for its Canal Quarter redevelopment.
Tory councillor Charlie Edwards said: "I think everyone should support this petition. The only reason the Council are evicting the Co-op is to go ahead with the Canal Quarter development. Who else will Lancaster City Council try and evict off the Canal Quarter land? My bet is the Lancaster District Homeless Action Service, who along with the Musicians Co-op need our support, as they both sit on valuable land the Council wants to get their hands on."
"I hope the public pressure put on the Council will say a strong message: you cannot bully charities out of their homes. The Musicians Co-op has been going for over 30 years and the Council seems happy to completely destroy it. We cannot allow a similar thing happen to the District Homeless Action Service."
Coun Eileen Blamire, leader of Lancaster City Council, said: “The Musicians’ Co-op plays an important role in the Lancaster district’s music scene and the council is very supportive of its valuable work and wants to see it thrive.
“They currently occupy the building at 1 Lodge Street at the low rent of £200 per year under a tenancy at will which has been in existence for 33 years.
“Unfortunately a recent condition survey of the building raised a number of significant issues, particularly in relation to the roof and electrics, which need to be urgently addressed if they are to safely continue their occupation of the building.
“As a precautionary measure a six month notice has had to be formally issued. This will provide a ‘holding period’, during which the council will work constructively with the Co-op to gather more information on the issues affecting the building and develop a range of solutions.
“The council takes health and safety very seriously, and we hope that by working together with the Co-op the issues can be resolved.
“Our aim is that the Co-op continues to provide a home for musicians for many years to come and develops a real partnership with the council to promote music in Lancaster, which is one of our many strengths.”