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Morecambe’s Platform venue saved from closure after council u-turn

The Platform concert and entertainment venue in Morecambe has been saved from closure after a council u-turn.

Lancaster City Council say it will stay open past the planned date that it was to stop funding the venue, and will develop a new operating model to reduce running costs.

In February, as part of a plan to save £2.4 million, the council took the decision to end its funding The Platform from April 1 2024, and instead seek a third party to operate and underwrite the cost of running the venue. This would save the council around £150,000 a year.

A lifeline for The Platform to remain open was revealed at a council meeting earlier this month, after a leading councillor pledged to fight to keep it running as a concert venue.

Along with many other local authorities the city council say they’re is battling against unprecedented pressures caused by steep increases in its operating costs, increasing demand for services, and below-inflation funding from the Government.

The Visitor Information Centre located in The Platform closed in September.

A call for expressions of interest from third-party operators resulted in just three proposals, and following further discussions, the council now intends to continue running the venue itself under a different operating model that will be developed in partnership with staff.

Related:  Visitor Information Centres closure date announced as council seeks someone new to run The Platform

Annual figures for Platform and Visitor Information Centres released

Council pledge to keep Platform open after budget rethink

Local councillors from across Morecambe and Heysham also made a strong case for The Platform and for keeping it in-house.

The new model will continue the venue’s core purpose of providing entertainment, while increasing income and reducing costs.

Councillor Catherine Potter, cabinet member with responsibility for the visitor economy, community wealth building and culture, who has advocated for The Platform since she was elected to the council in May, said: “The council has always wanted to see The Platform remain open and to secure a sustainable future for the building.

“It was right to see if this could be achieved through a third-party operator to reduce the cost to the council of running the building, but it has become clear that the better option is for us to continue running it ourselves.

“Through discussions with staff it is clear that they have a passion for the venue which is unmatched and I’m excited to see their ideas for a new operating model and work with them to ensure the venue reaches its full potential.”

The future of the venue had been uncertain for some time.

In in the council’s original draft budget for 2023/24, cabinet members had proposed that the council should no longer operate the building as an entertainment venue from October 2023, saving £150,000 a year.

At the cabinet meeting in February, members were told that additional budget savings had been identified elsewhere.  These would substantially reduce the savings required from the Platform, allowing it to continue to operate until April 2024.

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