AN URGENT meeting is being sought in a bid to free Ludlow Assembly Rooms of a ‘blight’ on its future.

A meeting is being sought by Ludlow Town Council, which wants to talk with Shropshire Council about the long-term future of the arts facility.

A refurbishment of the Assembly Rooms was to have been completed in September last year, but hit problems when it was discovered that the building was in a much worse state than had been anticipated.

Then just before Christmas it was announced that Shropshire Council was coming to the rescue with a package of more than £1 million to enable the project to be completed.

But it has since become known that the package had strings attached that it is feared will put a blight on the future of the Assembly Rooms.

Shropshire Council has reduced the lease on the building from 125 years to just three years after which it is being claimed that they could decide to sell it off. However, Shropshire Council has said that it has no intention of selling off the Assembly Rooms.

Vivienne Parry, a Ludlow town councillor and the Shropshire councillor for Ludlow South, says that the venue is being asked to repay the money, which she says is impossible.

“The meeting that took the decision was just before Christmas and the papers came just a day before that meeting,” said Mrs Parry.

“To do this at such a busy time of the year is not acceptable and it is hard not to think that there was a hope that it would not be noticed.”

Mrs Parry says that it means that there is a blight now hanging over the Assembly Rooms and she thinks that with this condition it may be hard to get anyone to take on the café franchise.

“This is also very hard on the staff who will have this hanging over their heads and it will surely make recruitment more difficult.”

Mrs Parry says that the Assembly Rooms has for many years belonged to Shropshire Council and before that to the old Shropshire County Council.

“There seems to be an attempt to link the Assembly Rooms to the old district council, but this was never the case, “said Mrs Parry.

“It is Shropshire Council’s responsibility and it was a failure to properly maintain it that has resulted in the building getting into such a poor condition.”

She is fearful about the future.

“Shropshire Council is short of money and its policy seems to be to sell things off,” added Mrs Parry, who says he is not reassured by what Shropshire Council says.