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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Venue deficit causing concern

A KEY Ulverston landmark is causing council chiefs a headache as they struggle to cover its losses of hundreds of pounds a day.

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LANDMARK The Michelle Stephenson School of Dance show, Born to Dance 2012, at Ulverston’s Coronation Hall, right. Inset, Councillor Graham Vincent

The taxpayer is having to foot the bill for the Coronation Hall, which cost more than four times what it earned last year.

South Lakeland District Council has revealed it is looking at ways to make the popular entertainment venue financially viable, after its entire earnings in 2011/12 were less than two thirds of its expenditure on staff.

Councillor Graham Vincent, portfolio holder for communities and well-being, has been given the job of making the Coronation Hall profitable.

He said: “We have got to deal with the deficit in the foreseeable future – we have got to deal with it full stop.”

Progress has been made on reducing expenses and raising the building’s income but the latest figures for the current financial year still show the Coronation Hall losing £331,000 a year – or £906 a day.

Cllr Vincent added: “It is a significant amount of money that has been pumped into the Coronation Hall for many years.

“It is difficult at times to see how we can pull back £1,000 a day. It is a huge challenge, bearing in mind the population of the area.”

But he said the hall runs as a business and should be expected to perform like one. He will be looking at every option and putting forward ideas to keep running costs down and, crucially, boost income.

The latest figures show some progress has been made in the last year, with income up £11,000 to £120,000.

But a £20,000 drop in total costs, to £451,000, has done little to dent the yearly shortfall.

Cllr Vincent said it was important to ensure visitors were coming from the wider area and not just Ulverston.

He said: “We understand the importance of the Coronation Hall but we have got to look at how can we use the space to better effect – we really are focused on that.”

Figures for 2011/12 showed the venue made losses of £362,000 – or £991 a day.

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