A PETITION has been launched calling for Salisbury City Hall to be reopened immediately. 

The petition, and accompanying Facebook page, has been set up by Paul Sample, the Liberal Democrat councillor for St Edmund’s.

He says he is "deeply saddened" by the recent closure of the hall, and "implores Wiltshire Council to reconsider their decision and prioritize the restoration and reopening of Salisbury City Hall without delay."

It comes after Wiltshire Council said it remained committed to reopening it as a live entertainment venue. 

Leader of Wiltshire Council Richard Clewer said: “We can’t open a building which isn’t safe to allow live music to be played in. Given the scale of the work involved, we are taking a couple of months to undertake an assessment of the best solution for City Hall as an entertainment venue that is sustainable for the long term and to look at what degree of funding, we could commit to significantly enhance the offer."

A survey carried out by council offices identified damage to the roof, and the council says £2 million worth of repairs are needed before it can reopen.

But Cllr Sample said: "We strongly disagree with this assessment and firmly believe that immediate action should be taken to restore this vital community venue.

"It is disheartening to witness such an important part of our heritage being neglected and left unused. The closure not only deprives us of valuable entertainment opportunities but also hampers local businesses that rely on events held at the City Hall to thrive."

Speaking to the Journal, Cllr Sample added: "Residents are very angry that there has been no planned maintenance programme and repairs for the city hall by Wiltshire Council over the last ten years

"They say the building was safe enough to be a Covid vaccination centre 18 months ago and now it appears to be unfit."

Cllr Clewer says the reason the building could be used for the vaccination centre but not as an entertainment venue is that a surveyor’s instruction to the council was to keep acoustic stress to an absolute minimum until further investigations had been undertaken. 

The report into the damage at the hall was also supposed to be carried out in 2020 but was delayed by Covid. 

Cllr Clewer told the Journal: "We now have the report and as a result are taking action now before we reopen the hall."

In his petition, Cllr Sample also said: "We understand that financial constraints may exist; however, we urge them to use the hundreds of thousands of £££s received in rent from the NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Centre and/or explore alternative funding options such as grants or partnerships with private organizations who share our commitment to preserving this historical landmark."

Cllr Clewer says the money from the NHS has gone into the council budget "as would any other income". 

"It was very small (we didn’t want to make the NHS pay through the nose for saving lives during a pandemic). The funding to get City Hall re-opened will come from wider council funding as well (different options depending on the scale) that is the way that a large financially competent council operates its budget."

Cllr Clewer added: “I am speaking to officers regularly about this project and it’s incredibly important to me to get it re-opened safely and in a way and condition that’s befitting of Salisbury and complements the wider cultural offer the city provides."

You can view the petition here