De­layed re­vamp of con­cert hall proves ‘a dis­as­ter for city mu­sic’

Birmingham Post - - NEWS -

THE fu­ture of one of Wolver­hamp­ton’s pre­mier live mu­sic venues – closed for re­fur­bish­ment since Jan­uary – re­mains shrouded in mys­tery.

Wolver­hamp­ton City Coun­cil bosses are still un­cer­tain when work will be com­pleted and how much it will cost.

Es­sen­tial re­pairs and a com­plete over­haul of the 80-year-old Civic Hall had been due for com­ple­tion by Oc­to­ber 2018, at an es­ti­mated to­tal cost of £14.4 mil­lion.

But fol­low­ing the dis­cov­ery of un­fore­seen struc­tural prob­lems with the grade ll-listed build­ing in North Street, the com­ple­tion date has been passed and the re­fur­bish­ment work is al­ready cost­ing an ex­tra £23.6 mil­lion than orig­i­nally planned.

Frus­trated mu­sic fans have been left scratch­ing their heads as to when the venue will ac­tu­ally reo- pen and how much the work will cost once it is fi­nally com­pleted.

Self-em­ployed or­ganic gar­dener and mu­sic fan Steve Bradley, from Penn, said: “The city badly needs a func­tion­ing Civic Hall.

“It’s the jewel in our crown, cul­tur­ally speak­ing, and vi­tal as a linch­pin in Wolver­hamp­ton’s night­time econ­omy, while also hav­ing a cru­cial role in driv­ing foot­fall to the city dur­ing the day by stag­ing hugely pop­u­lar events such as the West Mid­lands Ve­gan Fes­ti­val.

“I can’t be the only ci­ti­zen to de­tect a lack of ur­gency in the work that is be­ing car­ried out there.

“I know about the de­lays caused by struc­tural prob­lems and the at­ten­dant in­crease in costs but I can’t stress strongly enough how vi­tal it is that the venue re­opens promptly.

“I fear that the project has lost mo­men­tum and that pro­mot­ers and artists will look else­where, wip­ing the Civic off the map. They need to get a move on. The si­lence is deaf­en­ing.”

Mr Bradley, who has con­sis­tently at­tended gigs at the venue for more than 25 years, said his most mem­o­rable nights among many vis­its in­cluded gigs by Elvis Costello And The At­trac­tions, Robert Plant, Bel­low­head and Sigur Ros.

> Wolver­hamp­ton’s Civic Hall

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