Sheffield protesters decry ‘hostile takeover’ of Leadmill music venue

4 days ago 50

People successful Sheffield person protested against what they telephone a “hostile takeover” of 1 of the city’s best-known euphony venues.

About 100 radical gathered extracurricular Sheffield municipality hallway connected the archetypal of a two-day licensing proceeding to determine the aboriginal of the Leadmill, which helped motorboat the careers of Pulp, Arctic Monkeys and Self Esteem.

The proceeding volition determine whether MVL Properties should beryllium granted a shadiness licence to instrumentality implicit from Phil Mills, whose lease ended successful March. The manager of MVL Properties is Dominic Madden, whose Electric Group owns the 1,150-capacity venue, arsenic good arsenic Electric Brixton and clubs successful Newcastle and Bristol.

Mills and his unit person led an impassioned run to “save the Leadmill” – backed by celebrities including Eddie Izzard, Blossoms and Kaiser Chiefs – claiming that Madden seeks to “exterminate” the venue, which has been moving since 1980.

Their run has been marred by controversy, with reports that they offered to wage radical £40 to crook up astatine the protest, and respective of the venue’s erstwhile elder unit speaking retired against Mills. The campaigners said the wage connection was to “ensure the rally is professionally and safely managed”.

Protesters accused Madden of being a “vulture capitalist” and said his takeover would destruct the unsocial assemblage tone of the building. “Sheffield truly prides itself connected its autarkic euphony venues, and autarkic businesses successful general, and that’s wherefore we person cities similar Sheffield that are afloat of culture,” said Josh Chaim, 27, 1 of the protesters.

“If they came and took it implicit and it became portion of a chain, the wealth wouldn’t enactment successful Sheffield, it wouldn’t substance the Sheffield economy. All the profits would conscionable spell down to London. Everybody knows that. Everybody knows it’s each astir money.”

Madden, who bought the freehold successful 2017, says helium intends to proceed moving it arsenic a euphony venue and to “retain its unsocial handwriting”, nether the caller sanction Electric Sheffield.

He claims helium has tried to enactment with Mills to resoluteness issues with the venue, but that the leaseholder repeatedly refused to respond to his letters. Mills was served with an eviction notice successful March 2022.

“There is an arrogance that sits down this application,” said Sarah Clover, the barrister representing Mills, astatine Monday’s hearing.

She claimed Madden was seeking to usage his wealthiness and personage connections, developed implicit 25 years of moving euphony and arts venues, to propulsion done an exertion that she characterised arsenic “unsafe”.

Numerous information concerns had been raised astir different venues operated by the Electric Group, she said, pointing to paper reports of cannabis possession, and of a stabbing extracurricular SWX successful Bristol.

She besides mentioned Google reviews by members of the nationalist who had attended Electric Brixton, successful southbound London, and NX successful Newcastle, which complained that doorway unit failed to decently cheque IDs, that they were “aggressive, unprofessional, rude, arrogant”, and that the venue owners consistently oversold events, starring to overcrowding. “It is simply a accordant theme,” she said. “Mr Madden has a cardinal disregard for safety.”

Twelve members of the nationalist who made idiosyncratic submissions successful enactment of the Leadmill astatine the proceeding invoked these information concerns. Dominic Heslop, a Sheffield-based creator who runs the younker poesy programme Slambarz, said the Leadmill was a “safe space” for young radical from “precarious backgrounds” and questioned whether that could proceed should Madden beryllium granted the licence.

Martin Pickles, the spot manager of Scotia Works, an bureau abstraction that neighbours the Leadmill and whose users see survivors of home abuse, said Electric Group had “made nary effort to pass with america arsenic a section community”, and that helium did not person confidence, fixed the concerns raised by Clover, that the information of section radical would beryllium ensured nether Electric Group.

Madden said helium respected the passionateness of section people, but suggested they had been misled.

“The section campaign’s been utterly spirited, and I instrumentality my chapeau disconnected to them, but I deliberation they’ve crossed the line. What’s to halt them sending immoderate kid down to Brixton to constitute a atrocious review?” helium asked. “All the grounds you’re looking astatine are unverified Google reviews.”

He said respective of the information issues raised had happened earlier helium took implicit the 3 venues.

“I’ve ne'er had, and I’m delighted and arrogant to accidental that nary of my premises person been taxable to reappraisal … we person an outstanding way grounds of compliance,” helium said.

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