The Save The Leadmill campaign has announced that it will hold a public rally outside Sheffield Town Hall later this month to coincide with a meeting of the city council’s licensing committee, which will consider a licensing application by the venue’s landlord. The landlord needs the licence as part of its plan to take over the running of the venue.
The rally is set to take place at 9am on 18 Sep - ahead of the start of the hearing an hour later - and the Leadmill’s current management team are inviting supporters to attend a drop-in session beforehand to make placards for the protest.
“We're a team of passionate people who love providing events for Sheffield and we're trying to keep The Leadmill running as the venue you know and love whilst also running this campaign”, says a spokesperson.
“We’re working to Save The Leadmill, protect our city’s heritage, and defend our culture, but on 18 Sep, the decision about this hostile takeover will go to a public hearing, and we need you there - we must show the strength of support for our campaign”.
All of this stems from plans by the owner of the building that houses The Leadmill - music venue company Electric Group - to take direct control of the venue by putting its own management team in place.
Those plans prompted current Leadmill operator Phil Mills and his team to mount the Save The Leadmill campaign, ramping things up somewhat in July by declaring that that campaign was now “a battle for the soul of Sheffield”.
Electric Group boss Dominic Madden has countered that his company plans to continue running the venue pretty much as it stands now, just with a new top team in place. He has also accused Mills of running a “toxic” campaign, and attempting to mislead people into believing that the venue is set to permanently close and be redeveloped.
Madden’s company bought the Leadmill building in 2016. The current management initially continued to run the venue, but were formally given twelve months to vacate the premises in March last year. Having launched the Save The Leadmill campaign and refused to leave, the existing team have programmed events into 2024.
“Every grassroots supporter counts, so we’re asking you to come to our rally on Monday 18 Sep at 9am outside Sheffield Town Hall”, says the spokesperson. “We know it’s a working day, but if you can come even for just one hour, we would be so grateful. Bring your friends, family and signs!”
“We have been overwhelmed by your support so far, but it will take the full strength of this campaign to secure victory and win the battle for the soul of Sheffield, so please mark the date, sign up online and bring a friend with you”, they add.
The campaign previously asked supporters to contact council leader Tom Hunt and demand he intervene in the dispute. However, he said in response: “As a statutory licensing authority the council has a legal duty to be fair, unbiased and treat each licence application the same”.
“When the application for a shadow licence for The Leadmill … is heard, it will be treated impartially and in exactly the same way as every other application that the council deals with. It is essential that the council’s words or actions do not influence the legal process”.
Commenting on the announcement of the Save The Leadmill rally, Madden tells CMU: “There is nothing hostile about our intentions to invest in the Leadmill to ensure that it continues to operate as a music and arts venue which Sheffield can be proud of for many years to come”.
“The only hostility comes from the campaign itself which is attempting to mislead people into believing that the venue is set to permanently close”, he goes on. “We want the venue to be inclusive and welcoming to everyone, including the staff - and equipped to attract the best touring acts and support the local community”.