Council approves plans for a private company to take over the running of Cardiff’s St David’s Hall
Cardiff Council’s cabinet has approved in principle controversial plans for a private company to take over the running of St David’s Hall via a long-term lease
The council claims the deal will safeguard the future of the building, which currently costs the authority £1 million per year to run, with a repairs bill also in the millions.
Academy Music Group (AMG), the company which operates the O2 Academy venues across the UK, first approached the council about taking over the building last month.
News of a potential takeover sparked a petition calling for the protection of St David’s Hall and its status as Cardiff’s classical music venue, which reached over 20,000 signatures.
Concerns have been expressed by members of the public, employees at the venue and local councillors, that the takeover poses a threat to the concert hall’s status and the possible impact that any work on the building could have on its revered acoustics.
Concerns have also been expressed by employees at the venue over potential job losses.
On Monday, councillors again raised their concerns over the potential takeover, including a potential monopolization of venues in Cardiff by Live Nation, during a lengthy Cardiff Council economy and culture scrutiny meeting.
Members of the committee also raised concerns about the potential uncertainty over St David’s Hall’s classical music programme, the threat to the building’s acoustics and the value of the deal.
Many of the details in AMG’s proposal are yet to be ironed out in discussions between Cardiff Council and AMG and a contract is set to be negotiated.
The council said that King’s Counsel legal advice will be sought on a draft contract.
A voluntary ex-ante transparency (VEAT) notice will then be published. A VEAT notice is used to publish a commercial intention to the wider market.
This allows competitors to come forward with a challenge to the proposal, which would lead to a procurement process. A VEAT notice will normally stand for about 10 to 20 days.
Final approval of any lease would also be subject to a further Cabinet report following public consultation as part of the Council’s budget setting process.
Cardiff Council is aiming for a final cabinet decision on the potential takeover in March 2023.
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