Derby City Council

Council re-writes history on Assembly Rooms; What happened to Cllr Repton’s “high quality experience”?

Derby City Council have very short memories when it comes to their aspirations, vision and enthusiasm for the Assembly Rooms. Cllr Martin Repton, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture back in 2013 ( 1 year before the fire) was actively publicising the future value of the recent “essential maintenance work” which will ensure that it would continue to give a  “high quality experience”

This did not result from cursory “sticking plaster” changes but improvements that made the venue sustainable


Within 2 years of these bold visions, and 1 year from the fire, Cllr Martin Rawson poured cold water on the whole project (Derby Telegraph)

But Mr Rawson said that would cost £10 million for a building with “very limited life expectancy”.

He said: “We’ve an estimate that it has five to 10 years left in it.We don’t think spending £10 million to get a building for that period of time represents value for money.”

 Mr Rawson said the limitations the Assembly Rooms has always had as an entertainment venue were another reason not to fork out the cash for reopening.

He said: “The seating capacity for example – it’s too small to be profitable for commercial-type shows. We’ve had discussions with the private sector and they’ve been unwilling to take on the building as it is.”

In a recent article (14 March 2017) on the Council’s Newsroom website, which confirmed some detail already disclosed in my previous article, continued the re-writing of history around how the Council always viewed the future of the venue.

With the money in hand, the question was, should the Assembly Rooms be repaired or given its age, should it be knocked down and rebuilt into a venue more suitable to take Derby into the mid-21st century?

If this was always the case, why refurbish the Assembly Rooms in 2013 at great expense if it never really had much prospect of being  a “21st Century venue”? What happened in the fanned flames of March 2014 which totally changed the Council’s perspective on the future of the City’s premier venue? Or is history being “re-imagined” to retrospectively justify and underpin the fact that the insurance money was not sufficient (DCC article confirms that it was at least a £5m shortfall). Money necessary to restore the building to its original usable commercial status, providing a “high quality experience” which was very eloquently publicised by Cllr Repton in 2013.


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