The Save The Leadmill campaign has offered to pay people to join a protest due to take place outside Sheffield Town Hall later this month, according to the BBC.
Anyone who shows up in support of the team currently running the Sheffield venue - who want to stop their landlord the Electric Group from putting its own management team in place - will be paid £40.
As well as pursuing legal action to formally evict the current Leadmill team, which is headed up by Phil Mills, the Electric Group is also seeking its own licence to run the venue.
Mills and his team have been urging their supporters to call on Sheffield City Council to block that licence application, even though there are only very specific grounds on which it could legally do so, none of which probably apply.
As part of that, the Save The Leadmill campaign recently announced it would stage an in-person protest outside Sheffield Town Hall on 18 Sep, as the council’s licensing committee considers the Electric Group’s application.
According to the BBC, last week it emerged that people who commit to join the protest and post about it on social media have been promised a £40 payment for their time and trouble. Which isn’t necessarily a good look, given that the protest is meant to demonstrate how passionate local music fans are in wanting Mills’ team to stay in place.
Asked about the payments for protestors, the current Leadmill team told the BBC that they are being offered so that it - and a company it has partnered with to run the protest - know how many people are likely to attend, so that they can plan accordingly.
They said in a statement: "We are encouraging The Leadmill's supporters to attend a rally outside on that morning. We don't know how many people will turn up and as The Leadmill staff will likely be in the hearing itself, we have teamed up with Gosh to ensure the rally is professionally and safely managed by some of their team outside".
"Gosh are a company that we use regularly and we have a strong relationship with", they added. "They are obviously being paid for their time to do so".
The Electric Group and its CEO Dominic Madden have already called the Save The Leadmill campaign "toxic", arguing that Mills is implying that the venue is facing closure, when the plan is simply to put a new management team in place.
Madden is similarly scathing about the protest and the plan to pay the protesters. He told CMU: “Save The Leadmill’s decision to resort to renting a crowd outside Sheffield Town Hall on the day of the licensing hearing is a clear indication that public interest in their campaign is waning”.
“Paying people £40 to stand outside of the hall is a move that reeks of cynicism, as it attempts to manipulate the licensing process and unduly influence Sheffield Council”, he added. “We’ve consistently maintained that we will invest in The Leadmill to ensure it remains an inclusive, vibrant music and arts venue, of which Sheffield can be rightly proud for years to come”.