City council votes to open negotiations over Salisbury City Hall

“I THINK we are now one step closer to re-opening it.”

Those were the words of Salisbury City Councillor Paul Sample (Lib Dems, St Edmund’s) after a motion to open negotiations with Wiltshire Council over taking over City Hall was passed.

The vote, on Monday (September 4), came after a three-hour meeting at Salisbury Guildhall, passing the following motion:

“The Council requests that the Officers now open negotiations with Wiltshire Council to ascertain the proposed terms and conditions upon which a transfer of Salisbury City Hall from Wiltshire Council to Salisbury City Council could be achieved and to report back to members.”

The motion was passed by a good majority. All Lib Dem, Labour and Independent councillors supported the motion.

They were joined by one Conservative – Cllr Cliona Hibbert – who asked a series of questions that were answered by Cllr Sample.

However, one voted against it – Cllr Ed Rimmer – while others abstained. Mayor of Salisbury, Cllr Atil Hoque, refused to vote for the initiative.

The vote came as Wiltshire Council continues to carry out work to establish how much it will cost to re-open the venue – and said it would keep the city updated on .

Speaking in May, leader of Wiltshire Council, Cllr Richard Clewer, said the authority had been carrying out repair surveys on the existing building to find out how much it would cost to get it into a fit state to re-open – thought to be in the millions.

“We’ve always had ambitions to not simply reopen City Hall as it was but to do so much more with a venue that has such potential, which is why we bid for Levelling Up Funding,” he said.

“However, we are now looking at other funding sources to broaden the scope of what we can do. Our aim is a brand new venue the city can be proud of, which will add to the cultural offer and drive economic growth and regeneration.

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“These plans are at a very early stage, but we are determined to bring a first-class entertainment venue to the city by reopening City Hall and delivering our commitment to a cultural quarter.

“We will comprehensively develop our vision and will keep people up-to-date on our plans, but the community can be assured this is a top priority for me and I’m determined to see it through.”

However, after Monday’s meeting, city Cllr Sample said he was keen to see the building come under their control.

“I am really pleased with the support from Salisbury City Council. Councillors from all of the political groups – including an Independent and a Conservative,” he said.

“Those people who listen to the arguments tend to think that Wiltshire Council should be talking to Salisbury City Council about re-opening the City Hall.

“I think we are now one step closer to re-opening it. Lots of local residents support this campaign and I’m sure a deal is possible if Wiltshire Council behave sensibly.”

Responding to the vote, Cllr Clewer said: “We are deep in the process of looking in detail at all the options available to us for City Hall and remain committed to re-opening it as an entertainment and cultural venue as soon as we’re able to and seeing it thrive for the long term.

“We acknowledge the discussion held at Salisbury City Council’s meeting and I’m sure they will contact us directly about it soon.

“We’ll ensure to keep them updated on our plans, as well as all the other key stakeholders, as soon as we’re in a position to do so.”

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