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Son of late Newbury mayor supports Liberty ballroom campaign

Talks on venue re-opening as community concern

Jane Meredith

Reporter:

Jane Meredith

Contact:

01635 886637

TALKS are  ongoing over the possibility of re-opening the Liberty ballroom as a community concern after the popular venue  closed in December (2015).

The ballroom, at Greenham Business Park and the neighbouring large sports hall, was closed in December (2015), by owners, Greenham Common Trust, after the operators surrendered their licence.

Campaigners want to keep the bulldozers at bay and are  attempting to get the historic building listed, after strong support from the local community, in the form of a 1,310-signature online petition.

They have also challenged the  estimated £500,000 repair bill by owner Greenham Common Trust, after obtaining independent quotes, including some as low as £50,000 for roof repairs.

In a recent (Dec) statement, the trust said it was “committed” to exploring viable options for the ballroom, but added that the building presented a “significant challenge in view of the age and condition of the building and likely running costs.”

“The Business Park team are working  together with their professional advisors and various representatives of the former patrons,”said trust spokesman, Julian May, adding the ballroom was currently “not available for use,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr May said the trust had offered grants totalling £10,000 to fund sound and light equipment at two alternative venues for dance groups, the Fieldgate Centre in Kingsclere and Hermitage Village Hall – the latter supported by the trust several years ago, with a £250,000 grant to upgrade  the hall.

Petition instigator, Adam Padwick confirmed opponents of the ballroom closure were working closely with the trust on viable alternatives: 

“We would be interested to hear from any community groups who would be interested in using this unique venue for their future activities ( such as dance , live bands, weddings, bingo martial arts) ,” said Mr Padwick adding:

Our aim is to keep this community together that has been there for so many years and to improve on those facilities for future users.”

Among opponents is Graeme Berry, son of the late Frances Berry – a former mayor of Newbury, and who held his wedding reception at the ballroom last year.

Mr Berry, who has drawn a ‘Save the Liberty’ themed cartoon, said his mother – a huge dance fan who instigated tea dances at Newbury’s Corn Exchange – would have been “horrified” he said at the closure of the Liberty ballroom and “Banging on the door,” he added, in a drive to get it re-opened.

To sign the Liberty ballroom petition visit:

 www.change.org/p/greenham-common-community-trust-west-berkshire-council-save-the-liberty-ballroom-before-its-too-late

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